Not everyone signs his or her name the same way every time. Hundreds of thousands of American voters may be suffering from disease, a broken arm, being tired, or the tremor that sometimes comes from age. Florida does have a strong retirement community. U.S. Federal Judge Mark Walker tightly controlled his ruling on that issue in the face of a lawsuit as Donald Trump sat brooding in the White House.
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and Democratic Party officials brought a lawsuit in hopes of letting those voters’ ballots into the important, tightly held race between Governor Rick Scott and the senator. The two men are unofficially just 12,500 votes apart. The signature issue impacts up to 5,000 ballots, but the total number of outstanding ballots was not available. Military personnel have until Friday afternoon for their ballots to arrive.
The machine recount has to end at 3 p.m. Eastern time Thursday, but the U.S. Senate race would probably continue. Election officials can have until Sunday noon, to complete the hand count within .25%. The election officials will certify the election November 20 at 9 a.m.
Democrats wanted to completely take out the signature-match requirement. Yet, Florida law requires it on mail-in ballots, and it must match the signature the state has on file for each individual when they registered. Nelson’s attorneys argued that this law violated the Constitution. Those representing Florida, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and others argued the law was constitutional.
Walker wrote in his decision, CNN reported:
‘There are dozens of reasons a signature mismatch may occur, even when the individual signing is in fact the voter. Disenfranchisement of approximately 5,000 voters based on signature mismatch is a substantial burden. Let this Court be clear: it is NOT ordering county canvassing boards to count every mismatched vote, sight unseen. Rather, the county supervisors of elections are directed to allow those voters who should have had an opportunity to cure their ballots in the first place to cure their vote-by-mail and provisional ballots now, before the second official results are fully counted.’
Scott’s campaign was unhappy with that. Spokesperson for his campaign, Lauren Schenone said:
‘We are immediately appealing this baseless decision and we are confident we will prevail in the Eleventh Circuit. Let’s be clear- Bill Nelson’s high-priced Washington lawyers went to court to argue against a process that they previously argued for.’
Head attorney for the Dems, Marc Elias, released a statement, calling it:
‘(A) victory for the people of Florida and for the Nelson campaign. The court’s ruling impacts thousands of ballots, and that number will likely increase as larger counties like Broward add their ballots to the total pool which can be cured. We are taking several steps to ensure the rights of every Floridian are protected, and this is one major step forward.’
Attorney for Nelson, Uzoma Nkwonta, said he anticipated that the judge would move the deadline out a few days, but that “would probably be insufficient” and voters needed “reasonable notice” to validate their ballots:
‘We believe that opportunity would take significantly longer than three days.’
Walker disagreed. He responded to Nkwonta:
‘At some point, isn’t there some onus on the voter?’
No word yet on the mail-in votes that were caught in the post office distribution center shutdown during the recent pipe bomb threat.
Featured image is a screenshot via YouTube.