The Murkiness of Mail-In Voting

Growing up, my father instilled a strong sense of the importance of voting. I remember as a small child accompanying my father to vote. From a distance, I watched him enter the voting booth and pull a lever to close a thick, dark curtain. When I turned 18, I registered to vote.

Voting is important! As a woman, I take this right seriously. We’re encouraged to vote, but the process is so convoluted and inconsistent from State to State, that things get murky. Read more in an earlier blog about Why Mail-In Voting Is Problematic for the US Presidential Election.

Voting Instructions in My State

Last week I received voting instructions for the US Presidential Election via email. The body of the email outlined the process and included three documents:

  • A blank ballot (see below)
  • A list of candidates, including their parties and office, plus one question.
  • A certification statement with a note in bold under the instructions
    • Your vote will not be counted unless you sign this certificate and return it with your ballot BEFORE 8 P.M. ON ELECTION/PRIMARY DAY.

Essentially, I have to handwrite in my vote(s) on the blank ballot. Sign the certification statement. Enclose both in an envelope and write “Ballot Enclosed” on it.

The process seems simple, but a few things are missing.

The Weight of the Handwritten Signature

The certification statement includes the note about how to make my vote count. However, an important detail is not there. Having my vote count also depends on a comparison of two signatures. The signature from my voting registration form (sent separately) and the one on my certification statement.

The wrinkle is that I filled out my registration form electronically. I “signed” it with my finger, rather than a pen. After submitting the form electronically, I printed it out and mailed it in. Now I’m left wondering if the electronic signature will match the handwritten one closely enough for my vote to count.

I’m also left wondering, why we rely on such a system in 2020?

The technology to collect and accept electronic (and digital) signatures has been around for over a decade. Why do we still put our faith in all this paper and handwritten signatures?

Will my vote count? I’ll have to wait until November.

As for others, the mail-in process varies from State to State. Things will be murky on election day.

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