The nuns at Zina Rodriguez’s Catholic school in the Bronx thwacked her knuckles to punish sloppy handwriting, so she was shocked when her mail-in ballot in Florida was rejected because her signature did not match the one on record with elections officials. Ms. Rodriguez, a registered Democrat, found the rejection notice in her mailbox at 7 p.m. the night before the Nov. 6 election, two hours after the deadline for appeal had passed. When she protested at the Palm Beach County Board of Elections the next morning, she learned that the culprit was a driver’s license signature, hastily squiggled on an electronic signature pad two years earlier. “There were 13 amendments on that ballot. The only reason I chose to write in was because I wanted time to research all the questions. I was fulfilling my responsibility,” said Ms. Rodriguez, 47, a behavioral health care consultant from Lake Worth, Fla. “All of that got thrown away because I wanted to get out of the D.M.V. office as fast as I can. It is incredibly upsetting.”
The issue of faulty signatures, especially on mail-in ballots, has emerged as a central point of contention in the county-by-county recounts taking place in Florida, with lawsuits spinning off the 2018 election like tornadoes off a hurricane.
On Thursday, Judge Mark Walker of the Federal District Court in Tallahassee ruled that voters whose ballots were invalidated by mismatches would have until 5 p.m. Saturday to resolve the problem. The new deadline would apply to just over 4,000 rejected ballots that could now be counted.
“This should give sufficient time, within the state’s and counties’ current administrative constraints, for Florida’s voters to ensure their votes will be counted,” he wrote.
Ruling the state law as applied was unconstitutional, he wrote that the county election officials could reject the ballots “with no standards, an illusory process to cure, and no process to challenge the rejection.”