Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court ruled Friday that election officials must accept mail-in ballots even if the signatures on them don’t match those on file for a voter.
The justices said nothing in the state’s laws required signatures to be verified, so if election officials are satisfied with the vote save for the signature, they cannot reject it.
“We, therefore, grant the Secretary’s petition for declarative relief, and direct the county boards of elections not to reject absentee or mail-in ballots for counting, computing, and tallying based on signature comparisons conducted by county election officials or employees, or as the result of third- party challenges based on such comparisons,” Justice Debra Todd wrote in the opinion for a unanimous court.
President Trump’s campaign had challenged the state over the issue.
Signature matching is considered a key check in many states that run elections through the mail, and election officials are trained in how to spot matches and to question signatures that don’t appear to match.
But though Pennsylvania asks voters to sign a declaration on mail ballots, the state’s new laws over the past two years expanding vote-by-mail options don’t require those signatures to match, the state court says.
In Oregon, which pioneered vote-by-mail and where every voter is automatically mailed a ballot, thousands of votes are disqualified in each election because signatures didn’t match.
The state does give voters a chance to “cure” the error and have their vote count, though not all voters are able to be reached, and some don’t bother to fix the situation, particularly if Election Day has already passed.
In Pennsylvania, voters who cast ballots by mail are supposed to sign a declaration on the envelope used to mail back their ballot.
But the state’s new laws over the last two years expanding vote-by-mail options don’t require those signatures to match, the state Supreme Court said.
The U.S. Supreme Court this week upheld another decision by Pennsylvania’s high court to allow the state to count late-arriving ballots.
Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich took to Twitter Friday to complain about the state of affairs with Pennsylvania voting.
“Pennsylvania Democrats are methodically changing the rules so they can steal the election,” he wrote. “It is amazingly open, dishonest, ruthless and will work unless the state (especially Philadelphia) is flooded with law enforcement.”