PA Supreme Court: Signatures Don’t Have to Match on Mail-In Ballots

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The Pennsylvania supreme Court has issued a ruling that prohibits election officials throughout that state to rejecting – or disqualifying – mail-in ballots because signatures on the ballot declaration do not match signatures on file.

In its 30-page decision the justices ruled that, as written, the election law applicable to mail-in ballots does not “authorize or require” election authorities to act on ballots where signatures do no match with what is on file with election authorities.

“We conclude that the Election Code does not authorize or require county election boards to reject absentee or mail-in ballots during the canvassing process based on an analysis of a voter’s signature on the ‘declaration’ contained on the official ballot return envelope for the absentee or mail-in ballot,” the justices wrote.

The ruling comes after efforts by Kathy Boockvar, the State as Secretary for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, to stop the rejection of ballots for mismatched signatures. Boockvar argued that the rejection of the ballots in question pose “a grave risk of disenfranchisement on an arbitrary and wholly subjective basis.” She further argued that in rejecting those ballots the state was not giving voters an opportunity to certify their signatures before their ballots are rejected.

While the Trump campaign argued that statutory election code mandates that election officials compare all information on the mail-in ballot envelopes – including a voter’s signature – to a voter’s information on file, the Pennsylvania supreme court disagreed.

“[I]n comparing a declaration against these lists, a county board may determine only whether the name and address information the voter has listed on the ballot envelope matches. There is no signature information in these lists for county election officials to compare against a voter’s signature on his declaration; therefore, pursuant to the plain language of the Election Code, these lists cannot facilitate the signature comparison Intervenors maintain is required,” the justices wrote.

The State of Pennsylvania will receive more than 3 million mail-in ballots this election cycle; over 10 times more than in 2016. Pennsylvania represents 20 votes in the all-important Electoral College.