Indianapolis Star: Indiana threw out ballot of woman with Parkinson’s disease over signature, lawsuit says
Indianapolis Star: Indiana threw out ballot of woman with Parkinson's disease over signature, lawsuit says
In Indiana, your ballot can be rejected and you would never know it, according to a new federal lawsuit.
The suit is challenging the constitutionality of an Indiana law that allows election officials to discard absentee ballots if they don’t think the signature on the envelope matches other signatures on file with the county.
The practice resulted in the rejection of “several hundred and possibly more than a thousand mail-in absentee ballots” submitted in 2018, according to the lawsuit.
And because Indiana law does not require election officials to notify those voters, they have no way of knowing their vote wasn’t counted and no way to challenge the decision, the lawsuit contends.
The lawsuit is filed on behalf of government accountability group Common Cause and four voters in St. Joseph County whose ballots were not counted because of questions about their signature. …
Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn said in an emailed statement that the practice has stripped too many Hoosiers of their voice in government.
“This system is deeply flawed and we trust the court will side with the voters who were wrongly and unknowingly disenfranchised and end this unconstitutional and undemocratic system once and for all,” she said.
Common Cause and its attorney, William Groth, sought records about signature mismatches from six counties prior to filing the lawsuit. According to the lawsuit, the number of ballots rejected in each of those counties because of perceived signature mismatches were:
- Hamilton County: 45
- St. Joseph County: 39
- Elkhart County: 13
- Madison County: 13
- Boone County: 0
- Porter County: 0
The lawsuit emphasizes that Indiana lacks any rules or standards to determine whether a signature is genuine and that county election officials receive no training in handwriting analysis.
“Given the lack of standards or expertise of those making the decisions I’m reasonably sure the rates of rejection from county to county are wildly inconsistent,” Groth said.
Groth and his clients are seeking an injunction to prevent enforcement of the current law. The case has been assigned to Judge Sarah Barker.
Such lawsuits have been successful in other states, Groth said. In neighboring Illinois, for example, the suit was resolved when lawmakers required notice to voters whose signatures were being questioned.