In an unusual late Sunday night court order [PDF], a federal judge declared Florida's rules for validating absentee ballots to be "illogical" and bizarre" and ordered that thousands of voters receive the option to correct a problem that might otherwise have resulted in thousands of unnecessarily and inappropriately rejected vote-by-mail ballots in the key battleground state.
U.S. District Court Judge Mark E. Walker granted a preliminary injunction sought by the Florida Democratic Party to a GOP-enacted statute that allows election workers who lack training in handwriting analysis to reject absentee ballots on the basis of mismatched-signatures without first providing voters with the opportunity to cure the perceived defect.
Notice and a right to cure under Florida's irrational vote-by-mail system is afforded to those voters who fail to include any signature at all on their absentee ballots, but not to those judged to have submitted a signature that does match the one on file with their registration record.
As AP notes, "Florida's Republican-controlled Legislature in 2004 passed a law that said all vote-by-mail ballots that had mismatched signatures or did not contain a signature were to be tossed out. But then in 2013 legislators changed the law to allow people who turned in a ballot without a signature to fix the mistake prior to the election." That statutory change did not offer the same option to cure signatures believed to be mismatches.
"It is illogical, irrational, and patently bizarre for the state of Florida to withhold the opportunity to cure from mismatched-signature voters while providing that same opportunity to no-signature voters," Judge Walker wrote. "And in doing so, the state of Florida has categorically disenfranchised thousands of voters for no reason other than they have poor handwriting or their handwriting has changed over time"...