Vote-by-mail fix approved in House

Absentee Ballots
Absentee Ballots

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – After a court ruling last year, a House subcommittee Thursday unanimously approved a bill that would deal with situations in which vote-by-mail ballots are rejected because signatures do not match the signatures on file with supervisors of elections.

Current state law allows voters a process to fix vote-by-mail ballots where signatures are forgotten.

However, the state has not allowed a similar process for times when signatures do not appear to match.

Before the November general election, a federal judge ruled that law unconstitutional.

The new legislation would require local supervisors of elections to make a good faith effort to contact affected voters to fix signature problems before a deadline has passed.

That would allow voters to submit affidavits before the election to resolve any signature discrepancies.

"A lot of times through life, people change their signatures," said state Rep. Evan Jenne, a Dania Beach Democrat who presented the bill (HB 105) to the House Oversight, Transparency & Administration Subcommittee. "Sometimes, it is due to circumstances beyond their control like Parkinson's disease, degenerative muscle diseases or problems with loss of vision. Signatures can change gradually or rapidly."

Under the bill, it would be up to local election supervisors to decide how to contact voters with mismatched signatures, with options ranging from email to phone calls to postal mail or a knock at the door of someone's home.

Voting by mail has become increasingly popular in recent elections, and more people now vote prior to Election Day than on the day itself.