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Michigan absentee voting: Here's what happens if your signature doesn't match

Michigan absentee voting: Here's what happens if your signature doesn't match
Posted at 8:25 AM, Oct 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-12 08:25:30-04

(WXYZ) — Absentee and early voting is in full swing in Michigan with just over three weeks until the election, and we have an important reminder about signatures for those who are voting absentee.

Related: Michigan voter guide: Everything you need to know

After you fill out your absentee ballot, there are several steps you must take in order for your vote to count.

First, you must put your absentee ballot in the secrecy sleeve, which should've been enclosed in the entire package you got from your local clerk.

Next, you have to put your secrecy sleeve inside the provided envelope. If you plan on mailing your ballot back, you have to provide your own postage. Or, you can drop it off at the drop-box you're designated to use. Find it here.

Finally, and arguably most importantly, you must sign and date the envelope.

The state's election law does allow voters unable to sign due to a physical impairment to make a "mark" or they can use a signature stamp.

If you forget to sign the envelope, or the signature doesn't match the voter registration, the ballot is considered void and can't be removed or counted, but will be retained at the clerk's office.

The clerk's office is expected to contact the voter immediately, so the voter can visit the clerk's office to sign their ballot or provide a signature.

Under the law signed last week by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the signature will be compared to a digitized signature on the voter's vile, but if one isn't available, the clerk can compare the signature to one appearing on the application.

If the signatures do not match before 8 p.m. on the day before election day, the clerk will notify the voter by mail, telephone, or e-mail, no later than 48 hours after determining the signatures do not agree.

"The qualified voter file must be used to determine the genuineness of a signature on an application for an absent voter ballot. Signature comparisons must be made with the digitized signature in the qualified voter file. If the qualified voter file does not contain a digitized signature of an elector, or is not accessible to the clerk, the city or township clerk shall compare the signature appearing on the application for an absent voter ballot to the signature contained on the master card. If before 8 p.m. on the day before election day the clerk of a city or township rejects an absent voter ballot application because the signature on the absent voter ballot application does not agree sufficiently with the signature on the master card or the digitized signature contained in the qualified voter file so as to identify the elector or because the elector failed to sign the absent voter ballot application, the city or township clerk shall as soon as practicable, but in no event later than 48 hours after determining the signatures do not agree sufficiently or that the signature is missing, or by 8 p.m. on the day before election day, whichever occurs first, notify the elector of the rejection by mail, telephone, or electronic mail," the law reads.

Key Dates and Deadlines

Thursday, Sept. 24: Early voting begins, absentee ballots begin being mailed
Monday, Oct. 19: Online, postmarked-by voter registration deadline
Tuesday, Oct. 20 through 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3: In-person registration allowed with local clerk
Friday, Oct. 30 at 5 p.m.: Deadline to request absentee ballot by mail
Monday, Nov. 2: Absentee/mail-in postmarked-by deadline
Tuesday, Nov. 3: In-person voting