Here’s how voter signatures are verified

Welcome to the Monday, Oct. 26, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Help Desk preview: How are voter signatures verified?
  2. Fundraiser update
  3. Explore Connecticut elections
  4. Explore Minnesota elections

Ballotpedia Help Desk: How are voter signatures verified?

Last week, we talked about the life cycle of an election ballot and how and when 2020 election results will be certified in excerpts from Ballotpedia’s 2020 Election Help Desk newsletter. 

Today, let’s talk about how voter signatures are verified.

All states require voters to provide valid signatures on their absentee/mail-in ballot return documents. Thirty-two states require election workers to match a voter’s signature on ballot return documents with the signature on record for that voter. Election workers do this using a variety of handwriting analysis techniques.

The New York Times published information explaining how election workers analyze a voter’s handwriting. It is summarized below:   

  • Slant: Signatures from the same voter’s hand should be slanted, or angled, in the same way. 
  • Size and proportion of letters: When comparing signatures, an observer would expect the letters in each to be approximately the same size and share the same rough proportions to other letters.
  • Shape of letters: Individual letters in signatures from the same voter’s hand should share the same shape. 
  • Ending strokes: Some signatures feature long ending strokes. If one signature features a long ending stroke and the other doesn’t, they may not have come from the sand hand.
  • Speed of writing: A signature lacking fluidity that appears halting might suggest that the individual signing it was writing slowly in an attempt to replicate someone else’s signature.
  • Pen lifts: If someone is attempting to replicate someone else’s signature, there might be observable pen lifts (i.e., marks indicating that the pen was lifted from the paper) in the forged signature.

Click the link below to learn more about signature verification, and click here to subscribe to the Help Desk and receive that newsletter in your inbox this afternoon.

Learn more

Matching gift update

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Explore Connecticut elections

Forty states down. Ten to go. Eight days until election day. Let’s kick off our fifth and final week of our 50 States in 25 Days series with a look at Connecticut and Minnesota. If you missed a day, here are the states we’ve highlighted so far, along with a map summarizing where we are in the series:

Week One: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Texas, North Carolina, Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio, Nebraska, and Oregon

Week Two: Montana, New Mexico, Iowa, South Dakota, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Maryland, Nevada, and South Carolina

Week Three: North Dakota, West Virginia, Georgia, New York, Kentucky, Virginia, Colorado, Utah, New Jersey, and Oklahoma

Week Four: Maine, Missouri, Arizona, Michigan, Kansas, Washington, Hawaii, and Tennessee, Vermont and Wisconsin

On the ballot in Connecticut

At the federal level, Connecticut voters will elect seven presidential electors and five U.S. Representatives. Both chambers of the state legislature are on the ballot, with all 36 seats up in the state Senate and all 151 state House districts. 

Partisan data

  • In 2016, Hillary Clinton (D) defeated Donald Trump (R) 55% to 41% in Connecticut. George H.W. Bush was the last Republican to win Connecticut in 1988.
  • One of Connecticut’s eight counties—Windham—is a Pivot County. Pivot Counties voted for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012 and Donald Trump (R) in 2016.
  • Both of Connecticut’s U.S. Senators—Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal—are Democrats.
  • Democrats represent all 5 of Connecticut’s U.S. House districts.
  • Connecticut’s governor, secretary of state, and attorney general are all Democrats, meaning it is one of 17 states with a Democratic triplex. It has held this status since 2011 when the state elected a Democratic governor.
  • Democrats have a 22-14 majority in the state Senate and a 91-60 majority in the state House. Because the governor is a Democrat, Connecticut is one of 15 states with a Democratic trifecta. Democrats gained a trifecta in 2011 after voters elected a Democratic governor.

Ballot measures

There are no statewide ballot measures in Connecticut this year.

Voting

  • Connecticut changed its law in 2020 to allow voters to cite concern over Covid-19 as a reason for voting absentee/mail-in ballot in the Nov. 3 election.
  • Connecticut does not require voters to have witnesses or notaries sign their absentee/mail-in ballot return documents.  
  • Voters can return their absentee/mail-in ballots in person or by mail. Ballots returned by mail must be received by 8 p.m. on Nov. 2. Ballots returned by mail must be received by Nov. 3.
  • In the 2018 general election, absentee/mail-in ballots represented 6.3% of all votes cast in Connecticut.
  • Connecticut law grants local registrars of voters discretion in determining when to begin processing and counting absentee/mail-in ballots.
  • Connecticut requires all voters to present non-photo identification at the polls. For more information about Connecticut’s voter ID requirements, click here
  • In Connecticut, polls are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. Connecticut is in the Eastern time zone.

Learn more 

Explore Minnesota elections

On the ballot in Minnesota

At the federal level, Minnesota voters will elect 10 presidential electors, one U.S. Senator, and eight U.S. Representatives. Both chambers of the state legislature are on the ballot, with all 67 seats up in the state Senate and all 134 state House districts. One seat on the state supreme court and four intermediate appellate court seats are on the ballot. Ballotpedia is tracking local elections taking place in two counties, one city, and two school districts.

Partisan data

  • In 2016, Hillary Clinton (D) defeated Donald Trump (R) 46% to 45% in Minnesota. Richard Nixon was the last Republican to win the state in a presidential election in 1972.
  • Nineteen of Minnesota’s 87 counties are Pivot Counties, accounting for 10% of the state’s population. Pivot Counties voted for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012 and Donald Trump (R) in 2016.
  • Both of Minnesota’s Senators—Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith—are Democrats.
  • Democrats represent five of the state’s U.S. House districts and Republicans represent three.
  • Minnesota’s governor, attorney general, and secretary of state are all Democrats, meaning it is one of 17 states with a Democratic triplex. It has held this status since the 2010 elections.
  • Republicans have a 35-32 majority in the state Senate, while Democrats have a 75-59 majority in the state House. Minnesota and Alaska are the only states with split control of the state legislature. Minnesota is one of 14 states without a state government trifecta.

Battleground races

Here are four battleground races taking place in Minnesota this year:

  • U.S. Senate: Incumbent Tina Smith (D), Jason Lewis (R), Oliver Steinburg (Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party), and Kevin O’Connor (Legal Marijuana Now Party) are running for a six-year term in the U.S. Senate. Smith was appointed to the seat in 2018 following the resignation of Sen. Al Franken (D) amid allegations of sexual misconduct.
  • 1st Congressional District: Incumbent Jim Hagedorn (R), Dan Feehan (D), and Bill Rood (Grassroots-Legalize Cannabis Party) are running to represent this southern Minnesota congressional district. Hagedorn and Feehan were their party’s nominees for the then-open seat in 2018. That year, Hagedorn defeated Feehan 50.1% to 49.7%. The race is one of 56 rematches in a U.S. House election this year.
  • 7th Congressional District: Incumbent Collin Peterson (D), Michelle Fischbach (R), and Slater Johnson (Legal Marijuana Now Party) are running to represent this district in western Minnesota. Peterson was one of two Democrats to vote against both articles of impeachment against Donald Trump. The other, Jeff Van Drew, later joined the Republican Party. Donald Trump carried this district in 2016, defeating Hillary Clinton (D) 62% to 31%. This was the widest margin of victory that year for any currently held Democratic seat.
  • State Supreme Court: One of the seven seats on the Minnesota Supreme Court is up for nonpartisan election this year. Incumbent Paul Thissen, a former Democratic speaker of the state House, and challenger Michelle L. MacDonald are running for a six-year term. Gov. Mark Dayton (D) appointed Thissen to the court in 2018. Appointees to the Minnesota Supreme Court must stand for retention election at the next general election at least one year after their appointment. Thissen is one of five justices currently on the court to have been appointed by a Democratic governor.

Ballot measures

There are no statewide measures in Minnesota this year.

Voting

  • Minnesota does not require voters to have witnesses or notaries sign their absentee/mail-in ballot return documents.  
  • Voters can return their ballots in person or by mail. If returned in person, ballots must be received by 3 p.m. on Nov. 3. If returned by mail, ballots must be postmarked on or before Nov. 3 and received by Nov. 10. Click here to check the status of your ballot.
  • In the 2018 general election, absentee/mail-in ballots represented 24.2% of all votes cast in Minnesota.
  • Minnesota law authorizes election officials to begin processing ballots on Oct. 27. Counting begins after polls close on Election Day.
  • Minnesota does not require all voters to present identification at the polls. 
  • Early voting opened on Sept. 18 and closes on Nov. 2.
  • In Minnesota, polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day. Minnesota is in the Central time zone.

Learn more




About the author

Dave Beaudoin

Dave Beaudoin is a project director at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

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