Counties Must Contact Absentee Voters Before Rejecting Ballot For Signature Issue

Aug 21, 2020

Federal Judge Sarah Evans Barker writes that from now on – including the 2020 general election – counties must contact absentee voters when they think their signatures don’t match and to prove they are properly voting.
Credit Lauren Chapman / IPB News

Indiana counties can no longer reject a voter’s absentee, mail-in ballot because an official says their signature doesn’t match – without giving the voter a chance to fix it.

That’s what a federal judge ruled Thursday.

Indiana law requires county election boards to check a voter’s signature on their mail-in ballot against their ballot application. If those boards – typically made up of the county clerk and a member of each major political party – don’t unanimously agree that the signatures match, the ballot is thrown out.

And counties aren’t required to ever tell the voter their ballot was rejected.

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A group of voters whose ballots were unfairly rejected in 2018 filed a lawsuit. They argue the law violates their constitutional rights. And a federal judge agrees.

Judge Sarah Evans Barker writes that from now on – including the 2020 general election – counties must contact absentee voters when they think their signatures don’t match and give them a chance to prove they are properly voting.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.