South Carolina Barred From Tossing Mail Ballots Over Signatures


A federal judge barred South Carolina election officials from rejecting mail-in ballots due to suspected mismatched signatures unless the voters are given a chance to fix any errors first.

The ruling Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Richard Gergel also directed South Carolina to review and reprocess ballots with mismatched signatures that have already been set aside.

“Previously, voters who submitted a ballot with a mismatched signature were not notified of the issue nor given an opportunity to fix it before their ballot was tossed out,” the League of Women Voters of South Carolina, which filed the suit, said in a statement.

The ruling one week before the Nov. 3 election comes as judges around the U.S. continue to rule on disputes over mail-in ballots, the use of which is surging to records as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Three term South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham faces the toughest challenge of his career in the state from Democrat Jaime Harrison.

John Powers, an attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law who worked on the case, said the decision is “common sense” given the number of first-time mail-in voters.

“Election officials are not experts at reviewing signatures,” Powers said.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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