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Ballot signature issue goes to federal court

Meanwhile, Florida vote-by-mail ballots pour in

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Should your vote get thrown out because your handwriting has changed?

State and national Democratic parties don't think so, and took their case to federal court Friday morning.

The issue is, if your signature on your ballot is different now than it was when you registered to vote, it could cause your vote to not count.

While people who forget to sign their ballots are given the chance to correct the mistake, mismatched signature-signers are not. Attorneys for the Democratic Party said that’s not right.
 
“There’s really no reason to treat those two categories of voters differently, and have one category totally disenfranchised,” attorney Bruce Spiva said.
 
The case comes at a time when nearly 3 million mail ballots have been sent out to Floridians – that’s nearly one in four registered voters opting to vote by mail.

More than 310,000 Floridians have already cast ballots for the November general election, according to the state Division of Elections. Of more than 2.9 million vote-by-mail ballots sent out by county elections supervisors, 310,760 had already been returned as of 10 a.m. Friday, according to numbers posted on the division's website.

Republicans accounted for 130,758 of the returned ballots, while 124,773 were from Democrats. Another 9,091 had been returned by people registered with third parties, and 46,138 were from independent voters.

In the August primary, 1.28 million Floridians voted by mail, with Republicans making up nearly half.

About 1 percent of Florida mail ballots — approximately 23,000 votes — were rejected in the 2012 presidential election. Ultimately, it’s up to a county canvassing board to make the final call on rejection. Each county has its own standards, meaning results can vary.
 
The judge didn’t rule in the case Friday, and another hearing is scheduled for Monday. Attorneys representing the state didn’t provide comment after the hearing.
  
The judge in this case ruled earlier this week in favor of Democrats. He extended Florida’s voter registration deadline to next Tuesday because of Hurricane Matthew.