About 85% of Ohioans who voted in the 2020 Primary Election did so by mail-in absentee ballot, and with the continuing COVID-19 pandemic, election officials are expecting an avalanche of mail-in absentee ballots in November. As a result, the number of applications and ballots rejected because of a purported signature mismatch will likely climb to tens of thousands in the November General Election.Basically, the plaintiffs want election officials to allow voters enough time to fix their mismatched signature "before the date by which the Ohio boards of elections must complete the canvass of returns," and contact voters by both telephone and email "in sufficient time to correct rejected absentee ballots and absentee ballot applications."
Signature matching, as practiced in Ohio, is notoriously inaccurate. Research demonstrates that election officials are prone to deciding erroneously that authentic voter signatures do not match file signatures. Certain classes of voters — non-English speakers, the disabled, and older voters among them — are most likely to produce inconsistent-appearing signatures and are therefore especially susceptible to being disenfranchised. Although fraud prevention is often touted as a reason for signature matching, the risk of erroneous rejection of a legitimate ballot is staggeringly greater than that of the erroneous acceptance of a fraudulent one. At least one expert estimates that there is a 97% probability that a ballot that has been rejected because of a purported signature mismatch has been wrongly rejected.
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