County election officials are running into an unexpected problem with the Department of Motor Vehicles’ new online voter registration system: faulty signatures. Without clear copies of voters’ signatures to compare to poll books, the identities of New Yorkers who registered online might be challenged on Election Day, elections officials said. Digital scans of applicants’ signatures “are not as crisp as we are used to getting, and they could be blurry. They could be distorted,” said Louis Babcock, Rockland County Republican election commissioner. “It could be brought into question by a poll inspector.” Uncertainty over a signature would not keep people from casting a vote, but it might require them to submit an affidavit ballot, which would allow commissioners time to obtain a better copy for verification, he said.
Elections boards are processing new registration forms daily as the Oct. 12 deadline for voting in the upcoming federal and state elections approaches. Although counties report that most of the applications coming in are the traditional hard copies, 23,655 people have used the MyDMV site to register, change party enrollment or report a change of address. Of those, 9,545 are first-time voters. The system allows those who hold driver’s licenses or non-driver identification cards to register online, as they already have proven their identity and signed paperwork at the DMV. The system started in August, and it was championed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Their signatures are sent in digital copies to the elections boards, where they are used to identify voters both at the polls and on petitions that political candidates must file to get on the ballot.