Mary Saucedo was surprised to learn in 2017 that the ballot she cast in the 2016 presidential election didn’t count. The 94-year-old Manchester woman, who spent her career working for the Department of Veterans Affairs, is legally blind and for the past 12 years has voted by absentee ballot with the help of her husband. Her 2016 ballot was tossed by Saucedo’s ward moderator, who concluded that the signature on the absentee ballot application did not match the signature on the affidavit filed with the completed ballot. On Monday, Saucedo and her husband, Gus, were in U.S. District Court in Concord as attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union argued the state law allowing for ballots to be discarded under such circumstances is unconstitutional.
Saucedo and two other voters whose ballots were discarded for similar reasons are named as plaintiffs in the suit, but the problem is more widespread, according to ACLU attorneys. They claim to have turned up 321 similar cases from the 2012 election, 145 from 2014 and 275 from 2016.
Those voters should have at least been notified that their ballots were being discarded and given the opportunity to challenge that decision, according to Julie Ebenstein, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. Ebenstein argued the case before federal judge Landya McCafferty.
The ACLU is championing several cases across the country in states where voters have absentee ballots discarded over signature issues with no notification or opportunity to appeal.