The American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire and the American Civil Liberties Union is suing New Hampshire for invalidating the absentee ballots of hundreds of voters, many of whom are disabled, without warning. The Complaint can be found here.
At issue is a state law that allows election officials — who have no handwriting-analysis expertise — to reject an absentee ballot, without giving notice to the voter, if they think there is a signature mismatch in the voter’s paperwork. People with disabilities are far more likely to have fluctuating handwriting or to require the assistance of someone to sign their name, as allowed under federal disability rights law. In short, people should not be denied their fundamental right to vote because of penmanship, but that’s exactly what is happening in New Hampshire.
Voters are never even informed that their ballots have been thrown out. Over the past five years, more than 500 voters have been disenfranchised under the law. They include plaintiff Mary Saucedo, a 94-year-old Manchester resident who is legally blind and allowed to obtain assistance in completing the absentee ballot process. For that, she relies on her husband of 51 years, Gus, an 86-year-old military veteran. In the 2016 general election, he assisted her in filling out her ballot, sent it in, and assumed her vote had been counted. Unbeknownst to them, it hadn’t.
On August 14, 2018, the District Court ruled that the statute violated procedural due process. The U.S. District Court concluded, “this signature-matching process is fundamentally flawed. Not only is the disenfranchised voter given no right to participate in this process, but the voter is not even given notice that her ballot has been rejected due to a signature mismatch.” The opinion is here.