Mismatched mail-in ballot signatures could mean uncounted votes

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A small percentage of the 700,000 voters who mailed in ballots to Bay Area election offices may not have their votes counted - and it is likely to be their own fault.

Every ballot has to be signed by the voter, and thousands of them come in with either no signature or one that doesn't match the one on file.

So far this election, 671,000 have cast ballots by mail in the Bay Area. Of those, 1,421 have what has been deemed by election officials as a questionable signature. Another 822 have no signature at all.

That means 0.33 percent, about 2,200 voters, will have their ballots set aside.

Those voters will have an affidavit sent to them to be filled out and returned by 5 p.m. Monday, November 7 in order for their vote to count.

Elections supervisors say it is an effective way to protect from fraud.

However, prior to October, signatures on mail-in ballots deemed mismatched were simply set aside - not counted - and the voter was not given the opportunity to correct any errors. But if a voter forgot to sign all together, they were contacted for a signature. 

A ruling by U.S. District Judge Mark Walker last month now forces Florida canvassing boards to contact any voter whose signature doesn't match for a redo. 

FOX 13 Political Editor Craig Patrick says most whose ballots are put to the side likely have no ill intentions.

"When you get older, maybe you have a stroke, or an arthritic condition, that changes dramatically your signature, and you don't realize your signature today is very different from what is on file. And if you are not checking your mail, you may not realize until it is too late that your vote didn't count," Patrick explained.

Several counties said they have gotten the proper affidavits back from voters to record their votes.

The supervisor of elections in Pinellas County has received verification on about half of it's 725 defective ballots, while Hernando has fixed 32 out of 35.