Federal Judge Rejects Lawsuit Over Ohio’s Ballot Signature-Matching Process!


Ideastream.org, By Steve Brown-WOSU, Posted October 7th 2020

A federal court has declined to change Ohio’s process of signature-matching used to help verify absentee ballots.

It would be “particularly damaging” to change rules on verifying ballot signatures at this time, wrote Judge Michael H. Watson from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio in a Sunday decision.

“Some public officials have unfortunately regularly cast doubt on the security and legitimacy of voting by mail,” Watson wrote. “A federal court enjoining part of the State’s procedure for maintaining the security of mail-in voting in the weeks leading up to the election could further undermine public confidence in elections.”

The judge rejected claims from the League of Women Voters of Ohio, the A. Phillip Randolph Institute, and two Ohio voters whose primary ballots were rejected because of what appeared to be mismatched signatures. The groups argue valid signatures may look different due to the circumstances when signing, or because the voter’s penmanship has changed over time.

They called for Ohio’s election boards to attempt to fix mismatched signature issues by calling or emailing voters right away. However, Watson cited court precedent in writing “[t]he Constitution does not require the best plan, just a lawful one.”

It’s not clear whether lawsuit backers plan to appeal.

The lawsuit is one of several against Secretary of State Frank LaRose ahead of a November election that will rely heavily on absentee voting because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Already, the state has seen near-record levels of absentee ballot requests.

Two separate lawsuits seek to lift LaRose’s limits on ballot drop boxes, while another is trying to force the state to accept absentee ballot applications via email and fax.

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