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What you need to know about signing your ballot

It's important to sign your ballot before mailing it off. So what happens if you forget?

SACRAMENTO, Calif — We’re about two weeks away from the U.S. Presidential election and California voters are already turning in their mail-in ballots. But with reports of illegal drop boxes popping up in one Northern California county and another report of a drop box being set on fire in Los Angeles County, some are wondering how they can ensure their vote is counted. One thing that voters can do is make sure they sign their mail-in ballot.

“More so, we have to reach out to people because they forgot to sign the envelope at all. They’ve submitted the envelope with no signature, so we can’t even do a signature match verification. In that case, we have to reach out to the voter to ask them to submit their first signature,” said Janna Haynes, public information officer for Sacramento County Elections.

Here’s what else you need to know about signing your mail-in ballot.

Signatures are verified

The two-step process involves running ballots through a sorter that takes a photo of the signature on the envelope and compares it to the voters’ signature on file, according to Haynes.

“If it doesn’t feel like it’s a complete match, it kicks it out of the system and into the file of some of our human eyes that look at the signature [on the envelope] and the signature we have on file to determine if they feel like it’s a match,” she said.

If the signature doesn’t pass either of those tests, then the department will reach out to the voter and request that they submit a new signature.

“I want voters to be confident that just because their signature doesn’t match doesn’t mean we automatically trash their ballot. We do make every effort to reach out to voters to ask them to submit a new signature...we work really hard to make sure every vote counts,” Haynes said.

You don’t need a witness to sign your ballot

“You do not have to have a witness in order to sign your ballot,” Haynes said. “The only time you would need to have someone sign on your behalf is if you’re requesting a ballot be brought to you, but you can’t go get it personally. There is a form you can sign in order to release rights to someone else to come pick up a ballot for you.”

Check the signature on your drivers license or ID card

If you typically sign your signature with your middle name or middle initial, you may want to include it when you sign your ballot, Haynes said.

“It’s important to know if your signature has changed over the years. I often tell people to look at the signature on their drivers license and determine if that’s how they still sign their name. If it is, it’s a pretty good indication that it’s likely a match of what we have on file,” Haynes said.

She said voters can also request a copy of their signature from the county by calling or sending a message on the county’s website.

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