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Florida law requires signatures on absentee and provisional ballots precisely match signatures that election offices have on record. In 2016, 1 percent of Florida provisional and absentee ballots were rejected due to invalid signature match.

In 2018, the list of those rejected includes former Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-Florida). Murphy was among an estimated 15,000 ballots rejected for failing the exact signature match standard.

“The problem is that voters in one county are subject to different standards for reviewing signatures than others and there is no uniform standard or even sufficient training for this, and it’s highly error prone,” said Marc Elias, campaign attorney for Senator Bill Nelson (D). “Studies have shown that laypersons conducting signature matching are more likely to reject legitimate signatures as inauthentic than the other way around.”

Nelson’s campaign is suing Florida’s Secretary of State Ken Detzner to insure these ballots are counted. Nelson trails his Republican challenger, Governor Rick Scott (R) by 15,055 votes, meaning the roughly 15,000 ballots rejected on the stringent match criteria could have enormous impact on the outcome of the race.

Provisional and absentee ballots are a major source of chaos in the Florida count — a box of provisional ballots was found by a teacher in a store room, unattended and seemingly forgotten, in Broward County.

As Grit Post previously reported, Broward County played fast and loose with ballot chain of custody procedures following Tuesday’s election, and the county’s Supervisor of Elections Barbara Snipes has illegally destroyed ballots in previous elections.

Both parties have set sights on Broward, with Democrats seeking to count and likely recount provisional and absentee ballots and Republicans alleging rampant fraud in Snipes’ office.

“Right now the results are unknown, as to who has won,” said Elias. “If I had to place a bet I would say it is more likely than not that Senator Nelson will prevail in a recount.”

Broward County’s Supervisor of Elections office was again unable to be reached for comment.

 

Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.

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