Signature Verification of Ballots

At a recent meeting of Eagle County Democratic activists, someone posed a question about how the signature verification process works during the ballot counting process. We went right to the source and asked County Clerk & Recorder, Regina O’Brien, who provided us all the specifics. If you have changed your name, or your signature has changed drastically since you completed your initial voter registration form, you can complete and submit a new voter registration form.

Signature Verification of Ballots

Ballots are run through the Agilis Duo ballot processing machine. The Duo compares the barcode on the voter’s return envelope to data from the State of Colorado’s SCORE voter registration database. The machine also captures the image of the voter’s signature on the ballot envelope. These ballot envelope signatures are then reviewed by trained, citizen signature verification judges; the judges compare the signature on the ballot envelope to the historical voter signatures already captured in the voter’s record.  If the signature matches during this first review, the ballot is accepted and the voter’s SCORE record is updated to show that the ballot was verified.  If the signature does not match during this first review, the signature goes to phase two of signature verification where a bipartisan team of additional trained, citizen signature judges review the signature that was rejected by in the first phase.  If the bi-partisan team accepts the signature in phase two, it goes on to the next step of processing.  Thus, there are two phases of judge review that happen before a signature is rejected.

If the signature does not pass both phases, the voter still has an opportunity to have their ballot counted.  We send the voter a letter letting them know of the discrepancy.  If the voter has an email address listed in their voter registration, we also send the voter an email with this same information. The letter/email informs the voter of the discrepancy or the missing signature and gives them the steps to follow to “cure” this discrepancy.  To “cure” the missing signature or non-matching signature, the voter must submit a copy of an approved identification with the Signature Affidavit Form.  Voters have until eight days after the election to return this information to our office.  Once a ballot is cured, then it moves to the next phase of ballot processing. 

In the 2020 Presidential Primary election, we had a 1% rejection rate for signatures that were not accepted by the judges and were not cured by the deadline by voters. We also had 0.3% rejection rate for voters who did not sign their ballots and did not cure the discrepancy.  If you add the two together, we ended up with a 1.4% rejection rate for a non-matching signature or no signature.  We place a large call outbox (sample below) on the back of the envelope to draw attention to the signature line, and we communicate as much as possible to voters to remember to sign their ballot envelope.