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Judge grants order requiring notice, remedy process for ND mail-in ballots rejected for signature issues

vote by mail graphic
Photo illustration by Dave Olson / The Forum
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FARGO — A federal judge has granted an injunction in a suit that sought protections for mail-in ballots that get rejected for signature issues.

The injunction, granted Wednesday, June 3, bars North Dakota Secretary of State Al Jaeger and other election officials from rejecting any mail-in ballot on the basis of a "signature mismatch" without having in place adequate notice and remedy procedures.

The order is in place for the primary election set for Tuesday, June 9, and may apply to the general election on Nov. 3.

The injunction was requested by the League of Women Voters of North Dakota and other plaintiffs, who argued that the state's election process does not notify voters when their ballot is rejected due to a technical error such as a signature mismatch and that there is no method for voters to fix such situations.

With the injunction, voters will have a way to check the status of their ballot. If there is an issue, they can provide the information needed to validate their ballot, the League of Women Voters said in a written statement.

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The court's injunction can be found here .

The suit filed in U.S. District Court maintained that the state rejects hundreds of ballots cast by eligible North Dakota voters every election and that the ballot verification process disproportionately disenfranchises voters prone to signature variability, specifically people with disabilities, non-native English speakers and both young and elderly voters.

The federal judge's order calls for the parties in the suit to confer and submit by noon Friday, June 5, "proposed procedures to be implemented by county auditors that afford affected voters notice when a ballot is identified as containing a signature mismatch, as well as an opportunity (for) affected voters to verify their ballots."

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com
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