Republican Secretary of State John Thurston has filed his answer to the League of Women Voters lawsuit asking a federal judge to give voters a chance to correct absentee ballots disallowed in the signature matching process.
The answer says the suit came too late and that the process is constitutional in any case.
As it stands, when absentee ballots are reviewed by election officials, they can be disallowed for minor discrepancies in name, address and birthdate and also for mismatches between an absentee ballot application or signature on file and the ballot return form. Voters don’t learn this until after election, too late for a “cure” of inadvertent errors or to challenge a disallowance for a signature match. Signature matching is no science and signatures change over time. Leeway is given by election judges but it’s still a national problem.
Thurston said the suit properly should have named election commissions as defendants because they do the checking of ballots.
Time is growing short to implement a cure process. Thousands of ballots have been submitted. Ballot checking may begin 15 days before the election by an emergency order from the governor, but ballots can’t be counted until election day.
Many courts have viewed favorably a variety of lawsuits seeking allowance from existing law on account of the pandemic, but Trump-packed appellate courts have overturned many of those decisions, which Thurston noted.
This lawsuit won’t die if Judge P.K. Holmes doesn’t provide injunctive relief for this election. One of the plaintiff’s lawyers, David Couch, said the constitutional challenge of a lack of due process to cure a faulty absentee ballot will continue.