County announces it will notify voters with problem signatures on mail ballot envelopes and give them an opportunity to submit a valid signature
The Voter's Choice Act is a new California election law that counties can implement if they choose to do so. Five counties - Madera, Napa, Nevada, Sacramento and San Mateo - are piloting this new approach to voting starting with the upcoming June 2018 statewide primary.
Participating counties will mail every registered voter a vote-by-mail ballot and provide secure ballot drop-off locations and vote centers where voters can return their ballots in person, or they can return voted ballots by mail.
All vote centers are available to all voters county-wide and will open for business ten days prior to Election Day. They replace traditional polling places and will offer additional services to voters such as the ability to register to vote, get a replacement ballot, receive language assistance or vote using an accessible device.
The California Voter Foundation, along with numerous other voter advocacy groups, has been engaging in Sacramento's implementation process for several months. Among other issues, CVF has advocated for Sacramento County to conduct outreach to voters whose signatures on mail ballot envelopes are found to not sufficiently match their registration signature on file and give such voters the opportunity to submit a valid signature so that their ballot will be counted instead of rejected.
Approximately 1,400 Sacramento County ballots were rejected in November 2016 due to mismatched signatures and CVF expressed concerns that the number would rise with an expansion of mail-ballot voting expected under the Voter's Choice Act.
So it was welcome news when Sacramento County recently announced, via its new Voting by Mail in Sacramento County animated video, that the county is now planning to contact voters whose signatures on their ballot envelopes are found to not match and give such voters the opportunity to submit a valid signature so that their ballot will be counted instead of rejected.
This announcement came shortly after a judge ruled in favor of the ACLU in its legal challenge to existing election laws that allow counties to reject voters' ballots without notifying them and giving them an opportunity to "cure" their ballot by supplying a valid signature.
The ACLU lawsuit has also prompted the introduction of new legislation, SB 759, which, if enacted, would require all counties to provide voters with notice and opportunity to supply a valid mail ballot signature.
CVF supported the ACLU's lawsuit with a declaration from CVF President Kim Alexander. The details of how these procedures will be implemented in Sacramento and elsewhere have yet to be worked out. In the meantime CVF will continue monitoring this reform and working toward Sacramento's effective implementation of the Voter's Choice Act.
More information about Sacramento and the other four counties' implementation of the Voter's Choice Act is available from the Secretary of State and Voters Choice California. The Sacramento County elections website also features extensive information, including locations for vote centers and outreach materials.