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Signature verification guide for mail-in ballots

PHOTOS: Election Day 2018 in Clark County
Posted at 5:02 PM, Oct 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-06 08:29:35-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — It's an election year like no other. Most people in Nevada are expected to mail their ballots in. Election officials will have a lot of signatures to process. It’s a measure to verify voters, but it could cause your ballot to get rejected or challenged.

U.S. election officials say about 50% of rejected absentee mail ballots in the 2016 general election was because of issues with signatures.

Signing your name. A simple thing nearly everyone does every day. Now, it's something many Nevadans have to do to mail in their ballots. It’s a way to verify or throw out votes if the signatures don’t match. That's because signatures can vary from the same person.

“It can be health. It can be age. It can be where you have an injury to your hand.”

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Jan Seaman Kelly is a forensic handwriting expert. She says there will always be changes in the way a person writes their name, especially as they grow older.

“People do change a letter formation or a habit within that time frame and that’s perfectly normal.”

In Clark County, signatures are verified electronically for a match and if there is an issue, it will be given to two people at the clerk’s office to check. If there is still an issue, a letter will be sent to the voter. The voter then has up to nine days after the election to clear it up. The secretary of state’s office says they keep several signatures on file from driver’s license registrations to signed petitions to match on ballots.


UNLV professor Robert Lang says there may be more scrutiny on signatures for the general election but says the June primary went smoothly without major issues. He expects the same in November.

“There will be a greater volume of ballots. They may take a little longer to count, but I don’t see any problems,” he said.

If you’re concerned that your signature may not be the most updated, the secretary of state’s office says the easiest way is to re-register to vote to ensure, your most updated signature is on file. We have information on how to do that here.