State officials are not challenging a federal judge’s decision to strike down New Hampshire’s “signature mismatch” procedures. Instead, they have instructed pollworkers not to compare a voter’s handwriting on their absentee ballot with the handwriting used on their absentee ballot application. According to instructions sent to local election officials on Aug. 24, local moderators should move forward with counting someone’s absentee ballot as long as it belongs to a registered voter whose name appears on the local checklist, the affidavit attached to the ballot “appears to be properly executed” and “the signatures appear to be the signatures of a duly qualified voter who has not voted at the election.”
The state says an absentee ballot can still be rejected “if a voter fails to sign either the absentee ballot application or the affidavit envelope, or if the documents contain different names.”
Until recently, New Hampshire law allowed a moderator to discard an absentee voter’s ballot if they thought the signature on it differed too much from the one on their absentee ballot application. But a federal judge ruled that this longstanding practice “failed to gurantee basic fairness,” in part because voters had no way of knowing their ballots were tossed until it was too late to intervene.