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Signature Matching and Staying Safe While Voting In-Person? OH Really? Answers Your Election Protection Questions

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Summit County ballot drop box
Kabir Bhatia
/
WKSU
Why can't dropboxes be placed at every polling site? Faith Lyon of the Portage County Board of Elections answers this and other questions about voting in this fall's election.

You have questions about voting this fall: everything from how signatures are verified to whether it’s safe to vote in-person. Each Monday, we’re reaching out to the experts to get the answers as part our "OH Really?" election-protection project. This week, we talked to Faith Lyon, director of the Portage County Board of Elections.

Signature Matching
She starts with a question from Brooke Kitzmiller of North Canton, who wants to know about mail-in ballots: "How are signatures compared and how close must they be to not be discarded?"

Lyon says the board maintains a database of a voter’s signatures – from their original voter registration form, absentee ballot requests, or sign-ins at a polling place – which is used for comparison. She says the goal is to ensure it’s similar enough, and not a case of someone signing for their spouse, “like you can do at a bank.”

If a signature does looks very different from what is on file, Lyon says they’ll mail out an 11-S form, which is available from the Secretary of State and titled “Absent Voter’s Ballot Identification Supplement.”

The form asks a voter to re-sign to provide proof of signature. “There are methods to make sure that the proper signature is there and it does not become a case of a ballot being thrown out without the voter being notified.”

Ballot boxes at polling places
Lori from Hudson asks, "Why can't ballot drop boxes be placed outside every in-person voting [location] on Election Day, guarded by election poll workers?" She’d like to be able to drop her mail-in ballot at a polling place.

Lyon says they are always looking for ways to “expedite the process,” but she can’t say whether she’d be for or against having ballot drop-off at polling places.

She says if it happened, though, “that’s going to slow down the results on election night. When they drop [in-person] votes off at our office on Election Day, as soon as we get them, we can begin processing them and scanning them.” But she says absentee ballots – whether delivered in—person or by mail -- are counted as soon as they arrive ahead of Election Day. Counting them on election night, along with the day’s in-person ballots, starting at 7:30 p.m. would delay results even longer.

Staying safe, in-person
Our final question this week is from Pat: "With more voters using the mail-in process, the longer it will take to verify election results. Secretary of State Frank LaRose said not to expect official results until November 24, as up to 50 percent of voters may use a mail-in ballot. That sounds scary."
Lyon says that not having a final count on November 3 is nothing new.

“On election night, the results that you [see] are unofficial. Those are not the full tabulation of votes.”
She adds that it’s simply absentee ballots and those filled-in during the day. The election night total does not include ballots postmarked by November 2, which still have 10 days to arrive at the Board of Elections. Provisional ballots cast on or before Election Day are also not included.

You can see previous listener questions-and-answers on our Election Protection page.

Stay Connected
Kabir Bhatia joined WKSU as a Reporter/Producer and weekend host in 2010.  He received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Kent State University.  While a Kent student, Bhatia served as a WKSU student assistant, working in the newsroom and for production.