Murfreesboro FAQ: How does the Rutherford Election Commission verify signatures on ballots?

Oct 20, 2020 at 09:47 am by Michelle Willard

Rutherford County Election Commission

Murfreesboro Voice Reader Susan Allen wanted to know how signatures are verified for mail-in, absentee ballots.

The signatures on all mail-in ballots (and all ballots in general) must be verified to reduce the chance of voter fraud.

"I first registered in the early '80s and would guess my signature has changed in the last 30-plus years. It is so common for seniors' signatures to change significantly as they age," she said. "This is the first time I have ever voted absentee, so this is a question that has been on my mind."

RELATED: Where and when you can vote early for the November election

This brought up a few questions about how the Rutherford County Election Commission verifies signatures on ballots. Rutherford County Elections Administrator Alan Farley answered the following questions about the process.

Do you verify signatures when a voter submits a request for an absentee ballot or just when the ballots are being counted?

Farley: Signatures are verified when the absentee ballot request is made and when the ballot is submitted. They are compared to your voter registration and any other official documents that we have on file such as other absentee request forms, address change or name change forms.

Ballot integrity is our only focus as the outcomes should be determined by the citizens within each jurisdiction.

Are they compared to the voter’s signature on their original registration form or from their signature on their most recent sign in when voting last in person?

Farley: No signature is identical but the hand stroke of an individual is dominant and consistent and doesn’t change with age or illness.

Each signature that is considered to be rejected must be confirmed by two people before its brought to me to confirm or deny rejection. Making The rejected signature confirmed by three people. The news media doesn’t tell viewers this part of the process. 

Who verifies the signatures and what does their training consists of that qualifies them to make these assessments?

Farley: Each of my staff members who work with processing absentee ballots are required to go through signature verification training. The training was established by the state of Oregon, which is a by mail state. It covers handwriting techniques and methods to look for when examining a signature.

If I can be of any other assistance to you, please do not refrain from asking.

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