PHOENIX – Today, an Arizona judge will hear a lawsuit filed Wednesday night by several Arizona County Republican Parties, joined by the state Republican Party, challenging the disparate standard statewide for whether voters are provided notice and an opportunity to cure issues identified with signatures on mail-in ballots after Election Day.
Following letters sent by Campaign Legal Center (CLC), ACLU, ACLU of Arizona, and Scharff PLC in late October, Maricopa County committed to permitting voters to remedy “mismatched” signature issues up until the deadline to cure conditional provisional ballots – Wednesday, November 14th.
CLC, ACLU, the ACLU of Arizona, and Scharff PLC filed a brief late Thursday night on behalf of the League of United Latin American Citizens, the League of Women Voters, and Arizona Advocacy Network Foundation to defend the due process rights of all Arizona voters, calling on the court to order that all Arizona counties give voters the opportunity to confirm their signatures through Wednesday, November 14 – the deadline to fix conditional provisional ballots. The Maricopa County Superior Court is holding a hearing today at 2 pm Arizona time.
“The court can fix the patchwork system across the state of Arizona by making clear that all Arizona counties cannot deny voters due process,” said Danielle Lang, senior legal counsel, voting rights and redistricting, at CLC. “Pollworkers are not handwriting experts, and whether someone’s ballot counts should not be determined on the whim of an official who mistakenly concludes that a voter’s signature is not genuine. Voters must be informed when such a conclusion is reached, and must be provided a chance to prove they genuinely signed the ballot. The Constitution requires this.”
“People should not be denied their fundamental right to vote because of penmanship,” said Julie Ebenstein, senior staff attorney with the ACLU's Voting Right Project. “Constitutional due process requires Arizona to notify a voter of any signature match issue, and provide them with a meaningful opportunity to resolve it, before making the decision to deprive them of their right to vote.”
The Associated Press estimated yesterday that 75 percent of votes in Arizona are cast by mail.
Given the popularity of vote by mail in Arizona, proper procedures for processing mail-in ballots are critical. In 2016, over 2,500 of mail-in ballots were rejected because election officials were not satisfied that the signature on the ballot matched the voter’s registration signature. Many of those voters did not find out that their votes did not count until after the fact, if at all.