Federal judge orders Florida to provide method to fix vote-by-mail ballot signatures News
Federal judge orders Florida to provide method to fix vote-by-mail ballot signatures

Less than 24-hours after canceling a hearing [JURIST report] on the vote-by-mail ballots, District Judge Mark Walker for the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida issued an order [order, PDF] requiring Florida to provide a method for voters to fix signature problems arising from vote-by-mail ballots. Walker was highly critical of the state’s opposition to allowing these voters to ensure their votes are counted, calling it an odd and unconstitutional double-standard resulting in disenfranchisement of thousands of Florida voters. In particular, the judge said, “[i]t is illogical, irrational, and patently bizarre for the State of Florida to withhold the opportunity to cure from mismatched-signature voters while providing the same opportunity to no-signature voters.” Under the order, Secretary of State Ken Detzner [official profile] is required to direct election supervisors in all 67 Florida counties to provide notice to voters with mismatched signatures and allow these individuals an opportunity to address the discrepancy, specifically through sending in a signed affidavit identifying themselves and confirming that they were the individual who voted—a process identical to the one provided for non-signature vote-by-mail ballots. The order was not surprising [Tampa Bay Times] in light of the recent developments in the case. No significant statement has come from the Secretary of State’s office.

Voting issues have become contentious as the presidential election approaches. Last week a federal court issued [JURIST report] a preliminary injunction in favor of the Pyramid Lake and Walker River Paiute Native American tribes challenging Nevada’s voting procedure of failing to provide polling places on Native American reservations. Late last month California Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation [JURIST report] clarifying felons’ voting rights. The law now clarifies that those sentenced under the third category of Criminal Justice Realignment Act of 2011, a term in county jail, are not stripped of their constitutional right to vote and confirms that only those serving a state-prison sentence or on parole and under California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation supervision lose the right to vote. Earlier in September a judge for the US District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted a motion [JURIST report] blocking Illinois from allowing voter registration on Election Day in the state’s most populated counties. The week before the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit struck down [JURIST report] a procedure implemented by the Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted that effectively eliminated inactive voters from registration rolls if they failed to respond to letters requesting confirmation of their status and addresses.