I-Team: Signature verification plays important part in mail-in voting

Local News

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — President Donald Trump has questioned the integrity of the November election, and he has specifically said the Nevada election may be stolen.

The concern is about mail-in ballots, and whether they could lead to fraudulent votes.

Signature verification is an important part of the process.

Registrar Joe Gloria says in Clark County, each ballot is scanned.

“And so the first step in that process is running it through our mamil ballot processing system,” Gloria says.

Software determines whether the voter’s signature matches the signature on file from multiple sources, like voter registration or even a driver’s license. If the machine rejects the ballot, election workers take a look. If two workers decide the signatures do not match, they are advised to contact the voter.

“We must statutorily contact that voter and give them an opportunity to cure that ballot,” Gloria says.

Gloria says a voter can respond through the Secretary of State’s app, where they can sign an affidavit and provide their Nevada driver’s license or ID. Or through the registrar, they can provide answers to three questions about personal information so their ballot is counted through the registrar.

For a ballot to be rejected in the first place, there have to be significant differences.

“You never sign your signature exactly the same way,” says Wayne Thorley, deputy secretary of state for elections.

“Two times there’s always going to be slight little differences, but the counties are looking for those indicators of differences,” he says.

“And if there’s multiple of those and significant then the signature will be rejected,” Thorley says.

Vanessa Murphy: “Is that enough to prevent voter fraud?”

Wayne Thorley: “It is, and it’s also no different than identification that is done at the polling place. Signature verification is not unique to voting by mail. If we were doing exclusively in-person voting, we would be verifying voters identities by signature, also. When a person goes to the polling place, they are asked to sign the roster, also called a poll book. And then that signature they put on the poll book or the roster is compared to the signature that the county has on file for the voter.”

During the primary, more than 12,000 ballots were initially rejected — about 2.5% of the total number of votes, accordingto the Secretary of State’s Office.

Nearly 7,000 were not counted because they couldn’t be resolved. Gloria says the machines in Clark County ar programmed the same way they were for the primary.

Murphy: “How can you explain what the margin of error is?”

Gloria: “That’s difficult to do, if it meets the requirement that there’s an algorithm in place that the system uses for the first check. After that, there’s forensic training that my staff goes through that they pass on to the election staff that goes through and verifies those signatures.”

Thorley says the Secretary of State’s Office does not check Clark County’s machines because there is no law requiring that oversight.

He also says Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske has been an advocate for a Voter ID requirement, which doe not exist in Nevada.

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