Decision Gives Voters Power to Validate Their Ballots in Time for June 9 Primary
BISMARCK—Today, a federal judge ruled that North Dakota’s process for absentee ballot verification will include a notification and remedy method for voters whose ballots are flagged for rejection due to signature mismatch. The decision comes in time for the state’s primary election on June 9 and will also apply to the November 3 general election.
“This was the common-sense decision to protect voters’ constitutional rights,” said Jan Lynch, president of the League of Women Voters of North Dakota. “Reliable mail voting is essential during the ongoing pandemic, especially for individuals at higher risk of severe illness. With the assurance of a notification and remedy method, North Dakota voters can now cast their ballots with confidence.”
The League and its partners brought this suit because North Dakota voters were not notified when their ballot is rejected due to a technical error such as signature mismatch, and there was no method for them to provide verification or cure the mistake to remedy their rejected ballots. Today’s decision ensures that voters have the best opportunity to have their ballot counted by establishing a notice and cure process. Simply put, voters will have a way to check the status of their ballot, and if there is an issue, they can provide the information needed to validate their ballot.
“We applaud the court for being a national example in recognizing that the signature match process in North Dakota would have the impact of invalidating thousands of legitimate ballots with no recourse,” said Chris Carson president of the board of directors of the League of Women Voters of the United States. “This decision clearly prioritized the best interest of voters, and we look forward to other cases around the country to follow suit.”
The League is joined in this case by Self Advocacy Solutions of North Dakota and individual plaintiff, Maria Fallon Romo. The plaintiffs are represented by the Campaign Legal Center.
“All eligible voters should be able to have confidence that when they participate in an election, their vote will be counted,” said Mark Gaber, director, trial litigation at Campaign Legal Center (CLC). “This is a win for voters who spoke out and said they should not be subjected to a handwriting test. Given the disproportionate impact of signature match policies on voters with disabilities, states must give everyone an opportunity to prove that they cast their ballot with proper notice so their votes count.”
"The state's signature match policy disproportionately impacted the disability community, which can struggle to produce consistent signatures," said AJ Marx, president of Self Advocacy Solutions, ND. "We are proud of this win for our community; we will now be able to advocate for ourselves in elections without fear of having our ballots rejected for no good reason."
Voters are encouraged to return their mail-in ballots as soon as they can. Absentee ballots must be returned and postmarked by the day before the election.
Contact: Kayla Vix | 202-809-9668 | [email protected]