U.S. News


Court: Georgia Can't Reject Ballots Over Perceived Signature Mismatch

A federal judged ruled election officials must give voters a chance to fix any discrepancies before their ballots are rejected.
Posted at 7:07 PM, Oct 24, 2018

Georgia election officials will no longer be able to reject absentee ballots or ballot applications due to alleged mismatched signatures, without due process. 

A federal district judge ruled officials have to notify voters before rejecting their ballots and applications and give them time to resolve the discrepancy. In the meantime, the paperwork would be considered provisional.

If an absentee ballot is still rejected after completing that process, the voter has the right to appeal the decision.

The ACLU sued Georgia Secretary of State and gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp and all county registrars over the matter last week.

The lawsuit argued election officials have no handwriting analysis expertise and therefore aren't qualified to tell the difference between natural variation in signatures by the same person. It said signatures can vary due to factors including age, physical and mental condition, and even stress. 

The ruling is a win for the ACLU, but Georgia is still involved in a number of other voter suppression-related controversies. 

The state cut more than half a million people, or 8 percent of all its registered voters, from rolls last July because they hadn't voted in previous elections. 

And over 53,000 voter registrations, mostly belonging to African-Americans, were on hold earlier this month due to minor differences between registration forms and a person's on-file information — like a typo or a middle name not being written out — due to the state's "exact-match" policy.