USA Today: Judge: Indiana can’t reject absentee ballots for signatures without informing voter
USA Today: Judge: Indiana can't reject absentee ballots for signatures without informing voter
INDIANAPOLIS – A federal judge has ruled that Indiana law governing the process of approving or rejecting absentee ballots based on signature matching is unconstitutional because it doesn’t require that voters be notified and doesn’t offer a means to contest such a decision.
In Indiana, county election boards compare the signature on an absentee ballot application with the signature on a provided affidavit printed on the outside of a return envelope.
If a board determines the signatures don’t match, the ballot is rejected. Boards are not required to notify the voter of the rejected ballot and there is no procedure for contesting the decision.
States are seeing surges in applications to vote absentee by mail as the coronavirus pandemic marches on. In the 2020 primary election, when excuses were not required to vote absentee, more than 500,000 people applied to vote by mail in Indiana.
In May 2019, long before the pandemic began, four voters and Common Cause Indiana, a grassroots organization that advocates for eliminating barriers to voting, sued Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson over the signature matching practice. They say it violates due process and equal protection.
U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker agreed, issuing an order Thursday barring all Indiana election officials from rejecting mail-in absentee ballots on the basis of mismatching signatures without giving proper notice to the voter and without providing means to contest the decision. …
In an emailed statement, Common Cause of Indiana Director Julia Vaughn called the ruling “a historic win for Indiana voters.”
“This victory helps ensure no Hoosier voting by mail will be disenfranchised by Indiana’s flawed signature matching law,” she said. “Election laws should protect people’s right to vote and the integrity of our election system. Indiana’s signature matching law failed to do either, and wrongly disenfranchised Hoosiers.”