Today, Priorities USA announced funding for a legal intervention by the North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans in a lawsuit filed by the North Carolina GOP which requests that the State Board of Elections allow county boards of elections to conduct signature matching on absentee ballots and ballot application forms.
The intervention argues that a signature matching requirement relies on an arbitrary and error-prone system that leads to the unwarranted disenfranchisement of voters, due to the fact that a voter’s signature can change for a variety of reasons, including age, illness, injury and changes in eyesight. As a result of this, the NC GOP’s proposed signature matching system would disproportionately affect older voters and voters of color who are more likely to vote early and have their signatures thrown out based on arbitrary standards.
Signature matching was initially ruled as unauthorized by the North Carolina State Board of Elections, as state law already requires that absentee ballot requesters confirm their identity by providing two unique personal identifiers and that absentee voters confirm their identity when submitting their ballots by having two witnesses or a notary public attest to having watched them vote their ballot. Imposing signature matching would add yet another hurdle to an already onerous process to access the ballot.
“The North Carolina GOP is attempting an unmitigated power grab against voters, the Board of Elections and fair elections throughout the state,” said Aneesa McMillan, Deputy Executive Director of Priorities USA. “Republicans are consistently trying to rewrite election law to make it harder for people of color, immigrants and the elderly to feel confident that their vote and their voice counts in this country. Priorities, alongside our partners, will always keep fighting to protect the right to vote for all Americans.”
“The North Carolina GOP’s signature match proposal will disenfranchise untold numbers of older North Carolina voters,” said Bill Dworkin, president of the North Carolina Alliance for Retired Americans. “It is well known that people’s signatures change over time. Having unqualified county board of elections staff determine whether an older voter’s signature is valid will do nothing but suppress votes.