A lawsuit filed in a California appeals court on Thursday alleges the ballots of as many as 45,000 voters weren’t counted in November because of the state’s flawed rules for verifying the signatures of those who vote by mail. The lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California on behalf of a Sonoma County voter who said his ballot wasn’t counted after his signature on the ballot envelope was deemed to not match the one that elections officials had on file. “People should not be denied their right to vote because a government official doesn’t like their penmanship, but that’s exactly what is happening in California,” said Michael Risher, an ACLU staff attorney, in a written statement.
The legal action comes as a number of counties have been given permission under a new state law to close neighborhood polling places in 2018 and instead send all voters a ballot in the mail.
State election law requires county officials to reject a ballot if the signatures aren’t believed to be a match. But, the lawsuit said, existing law “does not prescribe how elections officials should make this determination or require officials to have training in handwriting identification or comparison.”