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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules Ballots May Not Be Rejected Over Voter Signature Comparisons

An election official in Denver collects mail-in ballots after they have completed a process that verifies each voter’s signature on the outside of the envelope with the one on file at the Denver Election Division for the upcoming election in Colorado, October 22, 2020. (Kevin Mohatt/Reuters)

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Friday that ballots from voters in the battleground state may not be rejected due to signature comparisons alone.

In the unanimous ruling, the court said that ballots may not be tossed over concerns that the voter’s signature on their ballot does not resemble their signature on their voter registration form.

“County boards of elections are prohibited from rejecting absentee or mail-in ballots based on signature comparison conducted by county election officials or employees, or as the result of third-party challenges based on signature analysis and comparisons,” the two Republican justices and five Democratic justices wrote in their decision.

The case arose from a dispute between Pennsylvania’s top election official, Democrat Kathy Boockvar, and President Trump’s campaign along with other Republicans. The court favored Boockvar’s argument that a signature comparison is not by itself a sufficient reason to discount a ballot.

The decision comes as states prepare for a spike in mail ballots this election cycle and amid concerns that votes will not be counted due to technical issues or ballots being discarded or lost.

Nearly 1.5 million Pennsylvania voters have already cast their ballots for the general election.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is leading Trump by 5 points among likely voters in the must-win swing state, according to the Real Clear Politics average of polls.

Both candidates have made recent campaign stops in the swing state as they compete for an edge less than two weeks out from the general election in November. Biden, who was born in Scranton but left the state as a child, delivered an address in Erie earlier this month and is scheduled to visit locations in eastern Pennsylvania on Saturday. Trump held a rally in Latrobe on September 4 and is scheduled to visit Lancaster County on Monday.

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