PHOENIX (AP) – A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that Arizona does not have to give voters who forget to sign their ballots in time after the election to resolve the issue, dismissing a filed lawsuit by the Democrats.
The 9th U.S. Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, overturned a lower court ruling that ruled unconstitutional for Arizona to give voters time after an election to resolve inconsistent signatures but not missing signatures. Appeals judges said Arizona’s interest in reducing the burden on busy election workers justified the disparity.
The overwhelming majority of voters in Arizona have voted by mail, which must be placed in a signed envelope to be counted. The signature on the ballot envelope is compared to others on file to confirm the voter ‘s identity.
In the 2018 election, counties had their own policies on how to handle rejected ballots. All counties provided a post-election period for voters to correct signatures that were rejected because they did not closely match those on record, but the length of time varied. Only some counties allowed voters to correct missing signatures after polling day.
The legislature in 2019 created a uniform five-day post-election period to correct discordant signatures in federal elections, but did not correct missing signatures. Democratic Secretary of State Katie Hobbs tried to include a five-day period to correct missing and discordant signatures in the 2020 Election Procedures Manual, but Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich declined to approve it.