CLC sent a letter on October 22 to Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan on behalf of the League of United Latin American Citizens Arizona (LULAC – Arizona), the League of Women Voters, and the Arizona Advocacy Network Foundation requesting that all mail-in voters be notified if their ballot is deemed unsatisfactory and have an opportunity to respond before their ballot is rejected for mismatched signature.
We sent a follow-up letter on October 25.
Given the popularity of vote by mail in Arizona, proper procedures for processing mail-in ballots are critical. In 2016, mail-in ballots accounted for nearly three-quarters of total votes in the state, however over 2,500 of those 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. With another election in just two weeks, voters need to know that their ballots will not be rejected without due process.
CLC’s letter outlines Arizona’s current policies on signature matching, which lack uniformity and fail to provide voters with due process. Only one county—out of fifteen—ensures that all voters whose ballots are flagged as “mismatched” signatures are given notice and an opportunity to confirm their signature. All fourteen remaining continues do not provide this critical notice to voters who turn in their ballots on time but on or near Election Day.
Arizona’s signature matching policies, or lack thereof, violate the Fourteenth Amendment by not meeting procedural due process, burdening the fundamental right to right, and treating voters arbitrarily across county lines and depending on when a voter turns in her ballot.
CLC and its partners urge Secretary Reagan to issue immediate guidance to the county recorders requiring that all voters with flagged ballots for “mismatched” signatures be provided notice and an opportunity to respond before their ballot is rejected.
In the absence of this guidance from the Secretary, we urge all county recorders to independently implement procedures ensuring notice to all voters with “mismatched” signatures, even if their ballots are received near or on Election Day. These voters should be accorded the same opportunity as voters who cast provisional ballots on Election Day to cure their ballot and have their vote count.
CLC sent the letter to Secretary Reagan after a request for records to all fifteen county recorders on August 23, 2018 regarding policies and procedures for matching signatures on mail-in ballots. The responses from eight county recorders did not provide much meaningful guidance on how recorders go about the difficult task of signature matching.