Handwriting experts say no two signatures from one person are the same. It’s why Florida election officials for years have used all the signatures at their disposal — sometimes more than a dozen — when they authenticate a voter’s signature on a mail-in ballot.
Now a bill moving through the Florida senate would have a vote-by-mail signature match strictly by the most recent signature on file. Some say it would make it harder to authenticate the identities of those who vote by mail, perhaps leading to more rejected ballots.
Experts who reviewed DeSantis’s signature history noted that the changes in his penmanship could have posed trouble for election workers, and possibly could have caused his ballot to be rejected.
Handwriting experts teach election officials how to make quick decisions on whether to reject or accept a mail-in ballot based on the signature. And one of the pieces of wisdom they impart is the importance of having multiple specimens to make a fair determination. A qualified forensic document examiner can help workers determine how to spot similarities in signatures.
NBC reported that DeSantis had his signature flagged in his 2016 primary ballot, not only once, but twice. County officials deemed his signature did not match the one on file with the state. Under Florida law, if a mail-in ballot is rejected, the voter has an opportunity to fix it at their local elections office, a process called a “cure.” When DeSantis attempted to cure his 2016 ballot, it was rejected as well.
One political scientist at the University of Florida says his research shows that counties often apply signature rules unevenly, and students and minorities are more likely to have their ballots rejected because of a mismatch. He said it was “silly” to limit the number of signatures to compare, and that DeSantis’s own signature is a great example why.
In May 2019, DeSantis signed a bill to expand the state’s school voucher system. He donned a big blue Sharpie and flashed the signed bills for the cameras.
“This probably would be rejected,” said one Florida county supervisor of elections. “It’s one of the reasons you need multiple pieces of evidence.”