A victory for fair elections as ballot signature match is struck down

A victory for fair elections as ballot signature match is struck down

The North Carolina State Board of Elections has rejected a Republican Party request for the board to allow county elections officials to examine signatures on absentee voting documents.

State Republicans wanted local elections officials to be able to compare voters’ signatures on their voter registration cards against their signatures on absentee ballot requests and returns in a process known as “signature matching.”

  • Twenty-seven states currently require signature matching on absentee ballots, but none of those states have requirements as stringent as North Carolina’s current rules for returning a vote-by-mail ballot.
  • NCSBE Chairman Damon Circosta, a Democrat, said that North Carolina has “an extraordinarily secure absentee ballot process” and that signature matching “would introduce a level of uncertainty wherein some voters might be treated different than other voters depending on how they vote.”
  • A study of voting by mail in Florida – a signature matching state – in the 2016 and 2018 elections showed that “younger voters, voters not registered with a major political party, and voters in need of assistance when voting are disproportionately likely to have their [vote by mail] ballots not count.” Hispanic voters, out-of-state voters and military dependents also had high rejection rates.

There is no evidence that signature matching is any more secure of a system than what North Carolina already has in place, yet state Republicans have attempted to advance a measure that a study has shown would disenfranchise a wide range of voters.

Instead of re-injecting voter suppression and adopting provisions that give them an upper hand, state Republicans should stand with Democrats in ensuring every North Carolina voter has fair and safe access to voting.

For more information about absentee ballots, visit the vote-by-mail FAQ and read about important dates for the Nov. 8 general election.

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Patrick Zarcone

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