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Federal Judge Ends Florida’s “Obscene Disenfranchisement” Regarding Mail-in Ballots

Federal Judge Ends Florida’s “Obscene Disenfranchisement” Regarding Mail-in Ballots

“This Court knows disenfranchisement when it sees it and it is obscene”

Instead of election officials rejecting mail in ballots because the signature does not match the one on file, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ordered that Florida extend the same courtesy it extends to those who don’t sign their ballot at all: a chance to correct the problem.

The Miami Herald reports:

Calling existing rules “obscene” disenfranchisement, a federal judge in Tallahassee declared late Sunday that Florida must provide a method for voters to fix signature problems that might arise when they vote by mail in the presidential election.

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker’s ruling was a victory for the Florida Democratic Party and the Democratic National Committee, which sued the state Oct. 3 arguing Florida canvassing boards shouldn’t immediately reject a ballot if a voter’s signature doesn’t match the one on file. The state gives voters who forget to sign their mail ballots a chance to fix the problem before Election Day — but doesn’t offer voters with mismatched signatures the same opportunity.

Walker ruled the “bizarre” double-standard was unconstitutional.

“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,” he wrote. “And in doing so, the State of Florida has categorically disenfranchised thousands of voters arguably for no reason other than they have poor handwriting or their handwriting has changed over time.”

He ordered the defendant, Secretary of State Ken Detzner, to direct election supervisors in Florida’s 67 counties to notify voters with mismatched signatures about the problem and allow them to submit a signed affidavit to their county elections office identifying themselves and attesting that they were the ones who voted. The same mechanism is already in place for voters who don’t sign their ballots.

“In our democracy, those who vote decide everything; those who count the vote decide nothing,” Walker wrote. Then he referred to a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling on obscenity that quipped, “I know it when I see it.”

“Likewise, this Court knows disenfranchisement when it sees it and it is obscene.”

The mis-matched signature issue was more likely to affect Democrats than Republicans.

The Miami Herald continues:

Democrats had argued the rejection of mismatched-signature ballots hurt them most, citing an analysis conducted for the political parties by University of Florida political scientist Daniel Smith showing about 1 percent of all Florida mail ballots were rejected in 2012 — about 23,000 out of about 2.3 million cast. In the 11 counties he studied — including Broward, Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Palm Beach and Pinellas — Democrats were more likely to have their ballots rejected than Republicans.

And in incidental and completely coincidental news, the Miami Herald notes:

Last week, Walker also ruled in Democrats’ favor to extend Florida’s voter-registration deadline through Tuesday due to Hurricane Matthew. He was appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama in 2012.


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buckeyeminuteman | October 17, 2016 at 1:11 pm

If you can’t follow simple instructions, you shouldn’t be deciding the course of our nation.

So, before this law, the previous law was that the voter would be given a chance to rectify the mismatch situation? Or, was the previous law that there was no mail-in ballot? To rule that the law is invalid is one thing, but to replace it with your Feelz is another.

filiusdextris | October 17, 2016 at 2:33 pm

I’m ok with it. Give them a chance to really verifiably commit to voter fraud, if such it is. And if does correct honest mistakes, so much the better.

Off Topic question for Legal Beagles.
In the event that any charges are considered on information on the hacked emails.
Are they submitable evidence .
Can they be used as probable cause to request originals from email provider.?
Not saying anything will happen but the most recent where foreign Donations are being solicited and discussed

So, the Judge figures that voters who forget the signature, or don’t notice the line where it’s supposed to go, are much the same as voters who don’t remember which of their store of signatures they’re supposed to use on a particular ballot.


Signature is a primitive verification of ID, even if it’s no more than an “X”. And we all know what the Dems think about that.

Our problem isn’t that it is too hard to vote; it’s that it’s too easy. We’ve played the game for decades, urging the apathetic, disinterested, & uniformed to register & vote. WHY?

If you don’t keep up with news & issues, if you don’t care about politics, you really should do the country a favor & stay the heck home.

No one’s signature is ever exactly the same. An unreviewed signature-match test would inevitably be used by Democrats at some point to steal elections by systematically invalidating Republican votes, so even though the judge’s intent here is to facilitate Democrat election stealing the effect is not entirely perverse.

In this case, the ruling is both logically and legally correct.

In Florida, the law allows for disputes as to the identity of the voter to be investigated before that person’s vote is discarded. At the polls, a voter is allowed to cast a provisional ballot, if their identity is questioned. If a person does not sign the envelope for the mail in ballot, the voter is supposed to be notified before the ballot is discarded [how this is supposed to be accomplished if there is no return address on the ballot envelope is unclear]. But, in the case of a signature which does not match the one on file, some of which are decades old, the mail-in ballot is simply discarded without notifying the voter. This does not allow the voter to challenge a charge that the ballot is not being cast legally. This ruling simply standardizes the process for voter identification questions.

There is no evidence that this practice unfairly disenfranchises any specific political or ethnic group. To charge such is more than little over the top. However, as this practice is based upon a subjective standard, rather than an objective one, and the voter is never notified that his vote was discarded, it makes it possible it to be used, by election officials, to directly affect the outcome of an election.

    “…But, in the case of a signature which does not match the one on file, some of which are decades old, the mail-in ballot is simply discarded without notifying the voter…”

    And in the case of a Democratic vote counter who can look up the party affiliation of the voter, it allows them to simply declare any absentee Republican ballot a “Signature mismatch” and throw them away without notifying the disenfranchised voter.

    Smart judge. Good judge.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to georgfelis. | October 18, 2016 at 1:27 pm

      The ‘rats can still toss the ballots. All they have to say is they sent the notification to correct the ballot but got no response. It would take a couple years to wade through the paperwork, automated or not, to verify that correction notices were sent. meanwhile, the ‘rat takes office and there’s nothing to do about it.

      The best solution is to end early voting and mail-in ballots (except deployed military), which I think is unconstitutional anyway, use paper ballots only, take all the voting machines and recycle their carcasses after gutting the electronics, and make voter ID mandatory.

This judge, Walker, is now making up the Constitution. He needs to be slapped down hard. Would this idiot judge move the election day if we had a hurricane? Would he give people the right to revote if they claimed they made a mistake. If the signature does not match, it means the person who filled out the ballot is not the one who requested the ballot and whose name is on the ballot. That is not discrimination. That is fraud.

If one isn’t smart enough to exercise the franchise in accordance with clearly delineated laws and procedures, then, perhaps one us unworthy of exercising this right.

I’d propose a variation of Robert Heinlein’s voting standard — personally, I’m in favor of restricting the franchise to persons who once paid, or, who are currently paying, federal income tax. Those who don’t have skin in the game shouldn’t be wielding the political clout to dictate how the fruits of the labor earned by the roughly 53% of the population who are engaged in meaningful economic activity (i.e., production of goods and services) get spent. Romney took a lot of heat for his “47 percent” comment, and, while it may have been a politically inexpedient and damaging utterance, the thrust of his point was a sound one.

• Must re-register every two years at least 30 days before election
• E-verify to prove citizenship when registering
• Picture ID to vote
• Paper ballots.
• No early voting, mail-in voting, etc.

    Gremlin1974 in reply to Kaffa. | October 17, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    ” No early voting, mail-in voting, etc.”

    Except for active and or deployed military.

    C. Lashown in reply to Kaffa. | October 17, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    Your 5 points are logical and common sense, therefore will never be accepted. I’ve come to believe that the current system is maintained strictly to allow voter fraud from both parties, when the need arises.

    I would add “Able to re-register at the polling place”

    After all, you’ve just shown valid ID and proved you’re alive.

I am GOP and this is concern to me. Just got my first mail in ballot and my last signature was from 1973. I called them, was told to send in another registration form so signature is updated. It is about time people started acting like Americans instead of impugning each other over silly stuff. If I had not seen this article I would have known nothing about it. Personally glad the “democrats” were looking out for me!

    The signatures tossed for mis-matching are typically Democrats’, but it is a good idea to have a more recent signature on file, nonetheless.

    Everyone is noting that people’s writing changes over time, and it does, but the signature had to be a major mismatch to be disallowed. For example, my signature 20 years ago was different than my current one, but not so different that it’s completely unrecognizable as mine. I still do the capital letters and the last letter of each the same; I just don’t bother with the middle letters anymore.

    But I like the whole process of going in to vote; I like to hear what people are saying in line and just feel that feeling of personally casting my ballot. Not that I wouldn’t mail in if I was out of state at election time or was ill or whatever.