Elections officers describe process to verify signatures
October 29, 2020
A link on Facebook to a Washington voter’s site caused a little stir this week, bringing voters to the Wahkiakum County Auditor’s Office concerned about ballots being rejected because signatures didn’t match.
Election officials are aware of the site, Deputy Auditor Kaelee Dearmore said, and believed that the creators were intending to be helpful, but voters are being redirected to the state’s official site, http://www.vote.wa.gov to check the status of their ballots.
While Dearmore was quick to point out that the ballots are not being “rejected,” she took time to explain the process when a ballot goes into a hold status.
Dearmore and Auditor Nicci Bergseng have received training on signature verification through a Washington State Patrol Class, which they recently updated.
Both are aware that signatures change over time, and sometimes voters haven’t updated their signature since they registered to vote, which could have been 20 years ago, or more.
The pair look for markers: spacing, height of letters, slant. Even if a signature has changed a bit, some of these things remain the same. They are very diligent, taking their time, sometimes calling the other in for a second opinion.
If they are not convinced that a signature matches, then that ballot goes into a hold status, and the ballot is kept in a secured box, awaiting a cure.
“It’s not like we’re trying to kick ballots out,” Dearmore said. “We want to make sure that the voter signed their ballot, that it is their vote, and that it is secure and safe.”
The voter will received a letter of explanation and a form that will give them an opportunity to resolve the issue by providing a more up to date signature, along with a return envelope with prepaid postage.
There is no need to panic. Voters who receive this notification will have until November 23 to resolve the issue.
“Washington is a very secure state to vote in,” Dearmore said. “We’ve been vote by mail for almost a decade. It’s a good system.”