Checking Absentee Ballots

Categories of threats to absentee ballots, and best defenses

·        Main paper, “Threats and Defenses Involving Absentee Ballots”

·       Supplement on pairs of ballots, signatures, investigations, literature and data tables

·       Procedures & cost of thank-you notes for absentee ballots (2 pages)

·       Short paper on auditing ballot marking devices (BMDs)

·       State rules on what the public can observe


Current Procedures for checking absentee ballots

·       Table showing how each state checks absentee ballots, and links to state laws

·       Details on a dozen counties and cure results, from public records requests, 2022

·       2020 spreadsheet: number of ballots accepted & rejected for various reasons in each US jurisdiction, with some state summaries, 2020 EAC survey

·       2022 spreadsheet: number of ballots accepted & rejected for various reasons in each US jurisdiction, with some state summaries, 2022 EAC survey


Table, graph and  links to sources on voters’ confidence in elections


Court decisions which stopped signature reviews

2019 IA LULAC of Iowa, Taylor Blair. "the risk of depriving Iowans of the right to vote outweighs any state interest

in requiring signature-verification of absentee applications and ballots... The lack of standards for comparing signatures; the lack of expertise and training regarding comparing signatures; and the unknown source, quantity and quality of any signatures 'on record' all contribute to a likelihood of error in determining a voter’s signature doesn’t match... The signature matching provisions of HF 516 do not pass rational basis scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause of the Iowa Constitution."

·       IA Supreme Court agreed to block signature matching, 8/10/2018

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·       Lawyers for LULAC included Marc Elias & others of Perkins Coie.

2018 US Dist. of NH: Saucedo, Heard, Fitzpatrick.

·       order #72 at "The absence of functional standards is problematic, and the likelihood of error resulting therefrom is only compounded by the lack of meaningful review or oversight. ... Such discretion [in signature verification] becomes constitutionally intolerable once other factors are taken into account:"

·       complaint #1 at "no voter should be disenfranchised simply because of penmanship. "


·       Lawyers for Saucedo et al. included ACLU


Pending cases to stop signature reviews

2023 KS, LWV, Loud Light, Appleseed, Topeka Ind. Living v. SOS & AG KS Court of Appeals remands to district court that signature matching needs strict scrutiny. State Supreme Court has not yet ruled.

·       Lawyers for LWV et al. include Elias Law Group

2022 WA, King County, Vet Voice, WA Bus, Centro de la Raza, Martinez, Cantrell, Britt v. King County & SOS. Complaint says, “Washingtonians do not have their signatures scrutinized to prove their identity when they sign wills, property deeds, vehicle titles, tax declarations, tax returns, driver’s licenses, gun licenses, contracts, or other legally significant documents. Indeed, affidavits and declarations offered in Washington (and federal) courts are routinely accepted without being subject to this faux science signature matching process. Lawyers sign complaints, judgments, and legal liens without such scrutiny. Washington citizens are born, marry, divorce, adopt children, and die with formal county and state documentation, none of which is subjected to this process… an election official might deem “Bob” and “Dick” to be common nicknames of “Robert” and “Richard” but fail to identify “Lalo” as a diminutive of “Eduardo” or “Chuy” as a nickname for “Jesús.” Indeed, RCW 29A.60.165(2)(c) compounds this problem by allowing election officials to count ballots where the voter signed with a “common” nickname.”

·       Lawyers for Vet Voice et al. include Perkins Coie


Court cases which endorsed a process to cure mismatched signatures or give more information to voters

2021 US E.Dist. of WA: Reyes, LULAC, LCF. v. Benton, Chelan, Yakima Counties  #120:motion for summary judgement, #155:response. #195-A:Settlement requires Spanish notices & training, and last pages have electronic signature certificates which would not be allowed for absentee ballots:

2020 US S. Dist. Of OH: LWV of OH, Randolph Inst, Mangeni, Campbell. Deny preliminary injunction in docket #53, because cure process exists

· "a minimum of two hours is required to conduct a signature comparison." (p.238 of pdf, p.10 of exhibit from Linton Mohammed, docket #24-6)

2020 US W. Dist. of TX: Richardson, Weisfeld, MOVE, LWV of TX, Austin Justice, Texans w/Disabilities. Ruling at #99, #105


·       2023 overturned on appeal: Sec. of State not responsible for signature reviews, so not the right party to sue, docket #125

2020 US S. Dist of IN: Frederick, Collier, Marks, Clark, Common Cause IN. Superceded by new law for cures:

2020 US Dist. of ND: Self Advocacy, LWV of ND, Romo. Settled by cure process, docket #36-37

2018 US N. Dist of FL: Florida Democratic Party (4:16-cv-00607). Superseded by cure process in CSHB 105, FL statutes 101.68(2)(c)1, docket #53.

·       Lawyers included Marc Elias of Perkins Coie

2018 US N. Dist of FL Democratic executive committee of Florida v. Detzner. Superseded by cure process in CSHB 105, FL statutes 101.68(2)(c)1, above


Other sources: