SAN JOSE (KPIX) — For millions of Bay Area voters, the key to making sure their mail-in ballot is counted is the signature on the outside of the return envelope — a signature that’s often compared to how you signed your driver’s license possibly years ago.


“I wanted to make sure that my signature would be recognized because it’s been 30 years since I registered to vote in this county and my signature has changed,” says Edward Bailey who dropped his ballot off in person at the Registrar of Voters Office in San Jose Friday.

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Bailey says he wanted to check the signature that the county had on record for him.

“Ever since we’ve been getting the mail-in ballot, we’ve been coming down here to drop them off,” Bailey said.

Elections officials in Santa Clara County say dozens of staff members are busy sorting, verifying and collating ballots in preparation for Election Day.

The registrar’s office says the signature on the return envelope for the mail-in ballots is compared to the signature on record — either from the DMV or their voter registration application. Additionally, if a signature is challenged, the voter has until 28 days after the election to verify the signature.

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“If for some reason the ballot was challenged, the voter will receive a notification. And they will have plenty of time, based on the law, to come to the office and provide their signature,” says Liz Oviedo with the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters Office.

Signature verifications are performed by trained members of the election staff. And that sometimes creates problems as Ashley Dickman learned the hard way. Dickman received a letter in the mail from her local election office this week, notifying her that her signature and ballot were being challenged.

“Either they don’t like my signature or someone tampered with my ballot. Either way, I’m getting a notification that my signature needs to be verified,” says Ashley Dickman.

Ashley says it took multiple phone calls and emails over several days to get the situation sorted out and her ballot accepted. The experience she says has shaken her confidence in the mail-in voting system.

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“That’s exactly what’s so enraging to me is I remember exactly how I signed, and no, I don’t think that the signature on my ballot was different enough than the signature on DMV,” she said.