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Voting Officials Waiting On Guidance From Pa. Supreme Court On Absentee, Mail-In Ballot Signature Matching

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- When it comes to signing your name, do you always write it the same way? A battle is brewing over this very issue: election signatures.

Our state's top voting officials are waiting on guidance from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

If you're planning to vote in person, you won't have to worry about this big debate. But if you're signing your name on the back of a mail-in ballot, someone could be soon scrutinizing your signature.

It's a battle over penmanship. Should absentee and mail-in ballot signature matching happen in Pennsylvania?

"What we want to make sure doesn't happen is voters have their ballots rejected without being notified or given the chance to come in or call and prove that in fact it was them " said Mark Gaber, the director of trial litigation at the Campaign Legal Center.

Gaber said signature matching is not a science. And during the June primary, that showed.

"What we learned from that is that at least some counties were purporting to match the signatures or attempting to match the signatures and compare them, and on that basis, were rejecting ballots," he said.

Our state's top election official weighed in this week, even asking the state's Supreme Court to make a ruling.

"The department filed a King's Bench petition with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court asking them to issue a declaratory judgement that mail-in and absentee ballots may not be rejected or challenged due to a person's signature variation over time," said Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar.

Republican attorney and candidate for attorney general Heather Heidelbaugh told KDKA's Meghan Schiller last week that she couldn't disagree more.

"There's a lot of talk about how this mail-in voting will have integrity, well she just wiped it all away because she's going to have no assurance whatsoever that the person actually voting on that ballot is the person who should be voting," Heidelbaugh said.

But what if your signature on your driver's license simply doesn't match the one on the back of your absentee or mail-in-ballot? Maybe it slants to the left, or the right or just looks like a rushed scribble.

"Federal courts have almost uniformly ruled that there needs to be notice to the voters and they need to have a chance before their ballot is rejected to come in, so we filed the lawsuit to make sure that happened," said Gaber.

Even if the Supreme Court decides your signature needs to be scrutinized, attorneys say they're still going to ask for voters to have the chance to be contacted and say "that's me, and that's my signature."

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