Sacramento, CA — California Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation that is designed to make sure a vote-by-mail ballot is counted even if a written signature changes over time.
When a vote-by-mail ballot comes into a county elections office the staff is required to compare the signature on the ballot with the one on the voter registration documents. The newly signed legislation requires that election officials notify voters of mismatched signatures at least eight days prior to the certification of election results. Ballots will still be counted if a signature verification statement is returned two days prior to the certification of the election.
California’s top election official, Alex Padilla, encouraged the legislature to pass the bill. He says, “For many voters, signatures may change over time or disabilities may make it difficult to sign the ballot properly. SB 759 ensures that voters have the chance to remedy a signature mismatch on their vote-by-mail ballot.”
He reported that tens of thousands of ballots were rejected in 2016 because signatures didn’t match.
The legislation passed with heavy support from Democrats and mixed opinions from Republicans. Mother Lode Assemblyman Frank Bigelow was in opposition and Senator Tom Berryhill was absent.
During the legislative debate, some Republicans argued that the change will encourage local elections officials to be more lax in checking signatures because they will not want to take on the additional steps and costs to ensure they match.