Fret not, absentee voters with sloppy signatures. You no longer need to worry that handwriting style could cost you your voice in a future election. The state’s top election official said Wednesday his agency will recommend changes to proposed mail-in ballot rules to make clear that an illegible signature isn’t a valid reason to disqualify a ballot.
Regulations adopted last year by the Democrat-appointed State Board of Elections had featured protections for illegible signatures as well as a catch-all provision that allowed improperly filled-out ballots to be counted if a voter’s identity could be confirmed by election officials. Earlier this year, after turnover on the Board of Elections gave control to Republican appointees, state officials withdrew those regulations and moved to replace them with what Democrats consider less flexible ballot rules.
After an article about the changes appeared in The Virginian-Pilot last week, about 500 people posted comments about them on a state website.
Concern that illegible signatures would disqualify voters under the proposed new rules was among the concerns raised in the comments.
That was not the board’s intention, state board Secretary Donald Palmer wrote in a letter published in today’s Virginian-Pilot. “SBE has not and would not direct a local election official to invalidate an otherwise validly cast absentee ballot because it contains an illegible signature,” he said.
Palmer added, “The State Board of Elections is committed to ensuring that as many ballots properly cast are counted.”