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What happens if my signature doesn't match on my absentee ballot?

When voting by mail, the main security method is by matching signatures.
Credit: WZZM

MICHIGAN, USA — Absentee ballots won’t be counted in Michigan unless the signature on the return envelope matches the digitized signature in the voter’s file, according to a law recently signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. If a voter’s file isn’t available, the signature on the return envelope will be compared to the signature on the absentee ballot application.

If the signatures are found not to match by the day before Election Day, the clerk will notify the voter “as soon as practicable” or within 48 hours by mail, telephone or email that their ballot has been rejected, the law says. That way, the voter will still have a chance to vote. But if the absentee ballot arrives too late and the signatures don’t match, the voter won’t be notified.

RELATED: How to vote in person?

The signature in the voter file will be the same as the one on the voter’s driver’s license, said Secretary of State spokesperson Tracy Wimmer, if the person registered to vote through a Secretary of State branch transaction.

If a voter does receive a message about a signature mismatch, the clerk notifying them will provide a specific explanation, Wimmer said. In that situation, the voter “may either choose to spoil their ballot and cast a new one, to go into the clerk’s office in person and either resign or provide a signature for their ballot, or to fill out a form confirming their identity, which is then returned to the clerk.”

Spoiling a ballot means sending a request to one’s local clerk asking them to disregard the absentee ballot. To do so, one can either mail a signed written request to their clerk’s office so that it’s received by Oct. 31 or spoil the absentee ballot in person by 4 p.m. on Nov. 2, the day before Election Day. Once someone spoils their absentee ballot, they can vote in person.

RELATED: What if I mail my ballot and want to change my vote?

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