On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker gave thousands of Florida voters until this weekend to fix their ballots if they haven’t been counted because of mismatched signatures; to find out how that works, WMNF News interviewed Brian Corley, the Pasco County Supervisor of Elections about what you should do if you think your ballot was rejected because of a signature mismatch, even before the statewide recount.
“I can only speak for Pasco, but to my knowledge, pretty much every county. When a voter returns their vote-by-mail ballot, by law we compare the signature on file and if there’s a major, substantial variance, then it gets looked at multiple times — literally three different levels.
“But after the first time there’s a major, substantial signature mismatch we notify the voter. If there’s enough time we would have sent them a letter. If not, we have called voters, we’ve emailed them. We’ve even found them on Facebook and messaged them (laughs) letting them know the opportunity to “cure” exists.
“If they had called our 800 toll-free number we would have alerted to them. Also the website would have told you of an issue.
“So, all these voters in Pasco — 103 [ballots that were discounted because of mismatched signature] — were already made aware of this. So this is not a new phenomenon. By not hearing back from them it went to the Canvassing Board for review. And the 103 there was such a substantial signature mismatch that they were rejected.
“Now, we’ve already sent out letters — last Friday the 9th — to all of these voters letting them know their signature was rejected for a signature mismatch.
“So now, with the judge’s order, we are awaiting a directive from Secretary [of State Ken] Detzner to basically allow voters until Saturday at 5:00 p.m. Now, it does say in the order they still have the availability to “cure.” It doesn’t say that there’s no legal obligation for us to notify the voter. But, obviously, we’re going to go above and beyond as we always do.
“So, I already have an email or a phone message, whatever, prepared to relay to the voter that, ‘Okay, this is what happened. Your ballot was rejected for signature mismatch. You had not gotten back to us. The judge issued an order and you now have until Saturday at 5:00 p.m. And here’s the ways you can “cure” your ballot.’ And then we’ll go from there.”
In the interview, Corley also looked back at the machine recount and looked ahead at what to expect from the manual recounts.
A federal judge is refusing to suspend the machine recount deadline that passed Thursday in Florida’s election. U.S. District Judge Mark Walker rejected a request by U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and Democrats to give counties more time to finish recounts. All 67 counties were required to submit the results of a full machine recount by 3:00 p.m. Palm Beach County’s election supervisor had already warned that her county would not finish on time. Earlier Thursday, Judge Walker sharply criticized Florida legislators and elections officials in Palm Beach County for the state’s chronic recount issues. During the hearing on whether to extend the machine recount deadline, Walker said Florida has a history of “razor thin” elections, yet Palm Beach County delayed purchasing enough voting machines to handle a recount. He says Florida is the ‘laughing stock of the world’ but chose not to fix election issues.
On the question of mismatched signatures, State officials testified in court that nearly 4,000 ballots have already been rejected because local canvassing boards decided the signature that was mailed-in doesn’t match the signature on file. Judge Walker did not go along with a request from Democrats to count all ballots with mismatched signatures.
Voters can check their local supervisor of elections website to see if their ballot was tabulated.
Here’s the form for Florida’s vote-by-mail ballot cure affidavit:
Here are Pasco’s machine recount results:
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report