Vote-by-mail signatures can lead to rejected ballots

The process of voting by mail has its perils.

TAMPA -- How do you know that your general election vote will count?

Lots of talk about hacking and rigged elections might make you worry whether your vote will actually be processed.

But only one issue has caused thousands of ballots to get rejected – vote-by-mail signatures.

“In Hillsborough in 2012, we had 172,000 ballots returned to my office and we had 99 signatures that didn't match,” said Craig Latimer, Hillsborough County supervisor of elections.

Tuesday, Latimer hosted a public viewing of the county's voting machines.

“I gotta tell you, I really don't understand what 'rigged' means," Lattimer said, referring to Donald Trump's claim about the validity of the upcoming presidential election.

"I rig my fishing line on my fishing pole but we have really transparent open elections here in Florida.”

During the 2012 presidential election, more than 23,000 vote-by-mail ballots were rejected in the state. That's because voters didn't sign their ballot or their signature didn't match up.

So, who actually determines that? No, it's not a handwriting expert. It's office workers.

“The (signatures) that we see that are different are extremely different,” Latimer said.  

On Sunday, a federal judge ruled county election officials must notify voters before the election if their mail ballot is rejected.
 
“We will be notifying anybody whose signature doesn't match immediately to give them a chance to remedy that just as we notify voters that forget to sign that oath.”

Enough about the past. Let's talk about how to make sure you mail ballot counts this time.

Make sure your signature stays consistent. If it has changed for some reason, update it with your Supervisor of Elections office.

Lastly, you can track your ballot online. All of the supervisor's offices in the Bay area have them on their websites. It'll tell you if it was received and counted or if there was a problem.
 
“The more things we can do to make it a valid election, the better off, I think,” said Gustave Zader, a voter who attended the public viewing of the machines. 

(© 2016 WTSP)


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