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Every election ballot is signature-verified

I'm curious to know what handwriting expert decides if our signatures match on our ballots. I recently injured my hand, so I know my signature does not match the one on my voter registration card. Is there a pile of rejected ballots somewhere I can dig through to see if mine is in it? What do I do about it if I find it was rejected? I want my vote to count.

— Meredith, Medford

 When it comes to verifying voters' signatures, the phrase "Good enough for government work" doesn't apply.

According to Chris Walker, Jackson County Clerk, each ballot is verified by a signature-verification team. She explained that images of the signed ballot captured from their sorting machine are placed side-by-side on a computer screen against the signature scans on file from the voter registration card. Voters who registered through the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles use their driver's license signature for verification.

"In a nutshell, every ballot is signature-verified," she said.

Thankfully, if the signatures don't match, your vote is far from lost, and you'd be far from the first person to see a signature change between the times of voter registration to poll close. 

"A lot of times we just need an updated signature from the voter to have the most current signature on file for signature verification purposes as we do understand people may be injured, have medical issues, tremor with aging, their signature has matured or another signature issue," Walker explained in an email.

In cases like yours, Meredith, you don't need to make a trip to the election office. Just watch your mailbox.

Walker explained that in circumstances where the signature doesn't match, the clerk's office will mail a letter informing the voter about the issue, and that the voter has up to 14 days after the election to sort the signature issue out.  Generally, the resolution from there is having the voter sign an updated registration card. If the signature on the signed ballot matches the updated voter registration card, the ballot can be counted with everyone else's.

A similar process occurs for voters who may have forgotten to sign their ballot.  Those voters get a postcard in the mail notifying them that they need to sign their ballot envelope, and they have until 14 days after the election in order for their vote to be counted.

Send questions to Since You Asked, Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.