Every vote counts (unless you forget to sign the envelope)
October 29, 2008 8:21 PM   Subscribe

Mr. sfkiddo voted by mail and didn't sign the envelope. Help us make his vote count.

I was filling out my ballots tonight, flipped over the envelope, and said to Mr. sfkiddo, "Oh, that's where I sign. You signed yours, right?" Unfortunately, the answer was "No" and the envelope is in the US mail box outside.

Worse case scenario, he can go vote in the traditional manner, but are there any alternatives? Can he take his ballot receipts to a polling place, get them scanned, and sign there? Could having unsigned ballots in the mail and voting in person cause any problems? We want to ensure that we do this right for this very important election.
posted by sfkiddo to Law & Government (10 answers total)
I believe that's going to depend on your state's rules. What state are you in?

In Colorado, for example, he can show up to vote on 11/4 and the poll worker's book is going to say that Mr. sfkiddo got a mail in ballot. He would then be given the opportunity to vote on a provisional ballot. That ballot would be placed in a sealed envelope with his details on it. A committee would then review his information, determine he did not have a valid mail-in ballot, and count the votes on his provisional ballot.
posted by LeiaS at 8:33 PM on October 29, 2008

Response by poster: Oops, sorry. Location is San Francisco, California.
posted by sfkiddo at 8:43 PM on October 29, 2008

See page 2, here.

B. Do I have to sign the vote-by-mail ballot return envelope?

YES. The elections official, by comparing the signature on the vote-by-mail
ballot return envelope to the signature on your voter registration card, can
determine that you are the authorized voter. This is an important protection
for you. Your signature will not allow anyone to determine how you voted.
To preserve the secrecy of your ballot, once your signature has been
verified, the ballot is separated from the envelope and the ballot becomes as
anonymous and secret as any other ballot. Elections Code §§ 3011(a)(2), 3019

If you omit any of the required information from your vote-by-mail ballot
application, the elections official will send you a ballot, but will also include
a notice that the missing information must be provided in order for the ballot
to be counted. Elections Code § 3009
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:48 PM on October 29, 2008

Woops, not as helpful as I thought ...
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:52 PM on October 29, 2008

Okay -- THIS is helpful. Gotta love the League.

Put the ballot in the special return envelope and fill in the required information on the envelope. If you do not sign your name on the return envelope your ballot will not be counted. Your signature must match the signature on your voter registration application form.

If you make a mistake on your vote-by-mail ballot you may:

* phone your County Elections Official and request instructions for getting a replacement
* take your vote-by-mail ballot to your polling place on election day, give it to the poll workers, and vote a regular ballot
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 8:57 PM on October 29, 2008

Best answer: In case you haven't seen it, the SF Department of Elections page lists a phone number "for immediate response" - (415) 554-4375.

mzurer, the presidential race isn't the only important thing on the ballot...anywhere, but particularly in California where the evil Prop 8 is neck and neck.
posted by needs more cowbell at 8:59 PM on October 29, 2008

Response by poster: To be clear: ballot is in the mail, unsigned. There's many many CA initiatives that we care about this year.
posted by sfkiddo at 9:04 PM on October 29, 2008

Nthing needs more cowbell -- call the Department of Elections tomorrow a.m. If they aren't immediately helpful call the League of Women Voters.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:07 PM on October 29, 2008

Uh, can't you stand outside by the mail box and ask for the ballot back when your mail carrier turns up, sign it and repost it?
posted by Happy Dave at 12:21 AM on October 30, 2008

I once called the post office and asked to get something out of a blue mailbox (I had forgotten to put stamps on) They came pretty quickly and were very pleasant about it. Said it happens all the time. So if the ballot is still in the mailbox, I'd give that a shot.
posted by mjcon at 6:43 AM on October 30, 2008

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