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Brandi Orth: Vote-by-Mail Signature Verification Ensures Safety and Integrity
Opinion
By Opinion
Published 4 years ago on
October 12, 2020

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When it comes to Vote by Mail ballots, it may be reassuring to know that every single signature, on every single ballot envelope is compared to the voter’s signature on their Voter Registration record.

Every single signature.

Brandi Orth

Fresno County Clerk and Registrar of Voters

In fact, in the March 2020 Presidential Primary election, 87% of Fresno County ballots were cast by voters utilizing a Vote by Mail ballot. Every one of those ballots was returned in the corresponding envelope, and every signature was verified. A small number of signatures did not compare, and those voters were contacted.

The Process

The Fresno County Elections Office uses a signature verification software program that completes the first comparison. After this automated comparison, approximately 50% of the signatures are compared and verified. Those signatures that cannot be verified by the automated process are then viewed first-hand by staff trained to compare signatures. For those envelopes that do not compare correctly or do not have a signature, the voter will receive a letter and the opportunity to cure their ballot by signing a special form. This takes extra time, but it ensures the integrity of the voting process.

In some instances, voters may worry that their signature may have changed over the years. This does happen and the recommendation is to re-register and provide a current handwriting sample. Paper registration cards can be obtained at post offices or call our office and we will mail you a form.

The Fresno County Elections Department takes this process and responsibility very seriously. There will be a small number of ballots that will not be counted due to voters not taking the opportunity to sign and return the signature cure letter. However, voters are always contacted if there is an issue with their ballot and they are given an opportunity to cure the defect.

Follow your Ballot

Voters have two ways to check the status of their ballot. Voters can track and receive notifications on the status of their Vote-by-Mail ballot by signing up for this free service at www.WheresMyBallot.sos.ca.gov. A voter can also check to see if their ballot has been processed by logging on to the Fresno County Elections website at www.VoteFresnoCounty.com. We encourage you to follow the process all the way through!

No Contact Voting

In this COVID world, voters are given No-Contact Voting opportunities. You will automatically receive a ballot in the mail. You can vote that ballot in the comfort of your home. And you can safely return that ballot by dropping the sealed, signed envelope into one of the 66 Drop Boxes located throughout Fresno County. A list of drop boxes is included in your Vote by Mail ballot package. A team of two identifiable election officials will service the drop boxes regularly and immediately bring the returned voted ballot envelopes to the County Clerk Department for processing.

Another option would be to mail back your purple envelope. No postage necessary.  The post office recommends you mail back your ballot at least one week before Election Day. Whenever you mail it, be sure that it is postmarked on or before Election Day.

While election law allows a voter to give another person their sealed, signed return ballot envelope to return on the voter’s behalf, we strongly recommend that you only relinquish your ballot to someone you know and trust. The voter is in control of their ballot. We recommend that you utilize one of the No-Contact voting opportunities – drop box or mail.

If voters have questions about the election process, we welcome the opportunity to answer questions and help voters understand the process. Contact the Fresno County Elections office at (559) 600-VOTE (8683) or by email at: clerk-elections@fresnocountyca.gov.

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