As you're casting your vote this election, you may want to pause in the name of good penmanship. More than 1,000 absentee ballots are under review in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties right now because the voter signature doesn't resemble the one on file.
A board of three county-elected officials spend days each election cycle comparing voters' registration signatures to the ones penned on envelopes. If there's a discrepancy, they consider the person's age, any disabilities, and the date of the signature that's on file with the Supervisor of Elections.
"If there's a portion of the signature that matches, and the canvassing board is comfortable that it's that voter's signature, then that ballot will be accepted," Pinellas County Supervisor of Elections Deborah Clark said Tuesday.
So far this election, 143 ballots in Pinellas County didn't make the cut. Another 109 came back without a signature altogether, automatically invalidating the vote.
It's a frustrating faux pas among Hillsborough County voters, too.
"We have 221 people so far who have returned their ballot without a signature on the back, and roughly 50 where there's a signature that just doesn't match what we have on file," said Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections spokesperson Travis Abercrombie.
Voters are alerted if their writing raises an eyebrow. Still, elections officials stress penmanship could be the deciding factor on whether or not your vote counts.
"When the voter signs the ballot envelope, that's a legal document, so people need to be very serious about how they make their signature," Clark said.
If a ballot is under review due to a handwriting discrepancy, the voter will be contacted directly and given a period of time to vouch for their signature.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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