Federal Judge Extends Florida Election Deadline to Correct Rejected Signatures

“The right of voters to cast their ballots and have them counted is guaranteed in the Constitution.”

Tom Williams/ZUMA

A federal judge on Thursday ordered Florida election officials to allow voters whose ballots had been rejected because they were deemed to have mismatched signatures two additional days to correct the issue, extending the state’s deadline to validate votes from Thursday to Saturday.

Republican Senate candidate Rick Scott’s campaign said that it would appeal the decision, which affects at least 4,000 voters whose mail-in or provisional ballots had been rejected due to the state’s signature-matching law.

In his ruling, Judge Mark Walker said that Florida’s mismatched signature law did not pass “constitutional muster” because it had been used with “no standards” and without a process for voters to challenge officials’ determination. 

“Without this Court’s intervention, these potential voters have no remedy,” Walker wrote in his ruling. “Rather, they are simply out of luck and deprived of the right to vote. What is shocking about Florida law is that even though a voter cannot challenge a vote rejected as illegal, any voter or candidate could challenge a vote accepted as legal.”

“The right of voters to cast their ballots and have them counted is guaranteed in the Constitution,” he continued. “Once again, Florida’s statutory scheme threatens that right by rejecting votes based on signature mismatch without an opportunity to challenge that determination.”

Thursday’s decision comes as the latest nail-biting development in Florida’s Senate and gubernatorial races, both of which President Donald Trump has repeatedly and falsely claimed have been tainted by voter fraud. Amid the baseless accusations, a Florida judge earlier this week said that he has not seen any evidence to support those claims and ordered involved parties to “ramp down the rhetoric.”

Voters will now have until 5 p.m. EST on Saturday to correct the issue.

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