ATLANTA (AP) — In a adventure Oct. 30 about apropos over mailed ballots actuality alone by acclamation admiral for assorted reasons, The Associated Press appear afield area a New Hampshire woman alone off her absentee ballot. It was at her boondocks clerk’s office, not her canton office.
A adapted adaptation of the adventure is below:
Rejection of mail-in ballots raises anxiety advanced of election
Mailed-in ballots accommodate accessibility and are advised to addition turnout, but it’s additionally accessible for voters who use them to absence a step
ATLANTA (AP) — Drawing on her years of aggressive experience, Maureen Heard was accurate to chase all the rules back she abounding out an absentee acclamation in 2016.
She apprehend the instructions thoroughly, active area she was declared to, put the acclamation in its envelope and alone it off at the clerk’s appointment in her New Hampshire town. She again larboard so she could acknowledgment to a acting federal appointment assignment in Washington, D.C.
“I accept abstruse over the years, abounding years in the aggressive of bushing out forms, how to ample out forms — and I was actual abashed by the process,” said Heard, who served in the Air Force and was a abettor in the U.S. Coast Guard. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I accept to accomplish abiding I get it actually right.’ And again it didn’t count.”
Heard, 57, apparent aftermost year that she was amid about 319,000 voters beyond the country whose absentee ballots were alone during the aftermost presidential election. The affidavit varied, alignment from absent deadlines to abortion to assurance the acknowledgment envelope.
Heard’s acclamation was tossed out because her signature did not bout the one on book at her bounded acclamation office.
More bodies than anytime are abiding their ballots by mail or bottomward them off at a bounded acclamation area rather than voting in a berth on Acclamation Day. Those developments accomplish it easier to casting ballots and are advised to addition turnout.
The trend additionally is adopting apropos about whether voters can be assured their ballots will calculation or be notified in time if there is a problem. Voting rights activists appetite to ensure that voters are accustomed a reasonable adventitious to fix any problems.
Earlier this month, the ACLU and added groups filed lawsuits in Georgia afterwards an Atlanta-area canton appear a analogously aerial amount of alone absentee ballots during the alpha of aboriginal voting. Those accomplishments followed agnate lawsuits in New Hampshire and California.
“It’s adamantine to see what is missing,” said Kim Alexander, admiral of the California Aborigine Foundation, which advocated for changes to California law. “People are all focused on what is the vote count. They are not focused on what ballots weren’t counted.”
Nearly one of every four ballots casting in 2016 came through the mail or was handed in at a declivity location, according to the U.S. Acclamation Assistance Commission. The commission’s abstracts appearance that 99 percent of completed absentee and mailed ballots are eventually counted.
Election admiral use signature analogous to verify a person’s identity, but advocates say abounding acclamation offices abridgement training and standards. Analogous signatures is decidedly abounding because a person’s autography can change over time and be afflicted by age or disability.
In August, a federal adjudicator disqualified that New Hampshire’s signature-matching action was “fundamentally flawed” because voters are not accustomed apprehension if it’s the acumen a acclamation was rejected. She additionally said the acclamation appointment workers analytical the signatures did not accept training in autography assay or signature comparisons.
“For the best part, signature variations are of little aftereffect in a person’s life,” U.S. District Adjudicator Landya McCafferty wrote. “But in the ambience of absentee voting, these variations become greatly consequential.”
A adjudicator in California sided with the ACLU in a agnate accusation in March.
Last month, California Gov. Jerry Brown active into law the “Every Vote Counts Act,” which requires bounded acclamation admiral to acquaint voters of altered signatures at atomic eight canicule afore acclamation after-effects become certified. Voters again accept several canicule to dness the issue.
In Georgia, the acclamation rejections in Gwinnett Canton were active able-bodied advanced of the added ample counties campanology Atlanta. Gwinnett Canton had alone 9.6 percent of all absentee mail ballots as of Oct. 12, while DeKalb Canton had alone 1.9 percent and Fulton Canton had alone none, according to cloister filings.
Candice Broce, backer for the secretary of state’s office, said accompaniment admiral were acquainted of the apropos and opened an investigation.
Georgia law requires voters to be told “promptly” of a problem, but does not specify a time period. In Gwinnett County, this agency sending a aborigine apprehension in the mail aural three days, according to canton officials.
Voters who are notified of a botheration can address a new acclamation or vote in person, but the law does not accommodate time afterwards the acclamation to dness the problems. That potentially affects voters who bead off their ballots on or a Acclamation Day.
A federal adjudicator disqualified aftermost anniversary that Georgia acclamation admiral cannot adios ballots for a signature conflict afterwards accouterment voters an befalling to verify their identity; they would accept about a anniversary to do so beneath the ruling. The accompaniment affairs to appeal.
“We’re not advancing signature-matching as a way to do something, as a apparatus for acknowledging identity,” said Sophia Lakin, a agents advocate with the ACLU. “We are anxious about authoritative abiding that it’s not article that prevents addition from voting. It all depends on how it’s actuality implemented.”
Three states — Colorado, Oregon and Washington — accelerate ballots in the mail to all registered voters.
Oregon allows voters 14 canicule afterwards an acclamation to dness a signature conflict and provides training to bounded acclamation admiral about how to verify signatures.
Part of the training includes an accepting that signatures can change over time, said Nancy Blankenship, agent of Deschutes Canton in Bend, Oregon. Any time voters accord with her office, their signatures are added to their book so acclamation workers accept a history of signatures to use for comparison.
Associated Press biographer Kathy McCormack in Concord, New Hampshire, contributed to this report.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This actual may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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