Common Cause Indiana Files Challenge to Indiana’s Unconstitutional Absentee Ballot Signature Match Rejections

Common Cause,  May 16, 2019

Under Indiana’s constitutionally-flawed absentee voter laws, signatures on absentee ballot envelopes are reviewed and deemed as matches – or not – with other signatures on file by county election officials. Absentee ballot counters are given no training, no standards, and no regulations to follow when evaluating signatures. Neither are they connected with experts on handwriting. Individual signatures may vary for a number of reasons – including age, disability, and limited-English proficiency – yet Indiana provides no training to elections administrators in handwriting analysis. These election officials are thus without any expertise and unable to determine with any reasonable degree of accuracy whether a submitted signature is “genuine” or not. As a result of Indiana’s constitutionally defective laws, hundreds of mail-in absentee ballots submitted in the 2018 general election were invalidated, and these eligible voters were disenfranchised through no fault of their own.

These voters, moreover, were given no notice of the perceived signature problem, nor any opportunity to confirm their signature in order to have their valid vote counted. Had constitutionally-required procedural safeguards been in place, county election officials would not have rejected hundreds of mail-in absentee ballots in the last election as well as in prior elections. Those votes are forever lost, but remedies requiring Indiana to conform to federal constitutional requirements can ensure that eligible citizens’ voices don’t go unheard in future elections.

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