It was bad enough that Peter La Follette’s mail-in ballot in the 2016 election wasn’t counted even though he had signed it and believed he had done everything properly. The worst part is the Sonoma County man didn’t find out that his ballot had been tossed out until eight months later. Apparently the signature on the ballot didn’t match the one on file with the county.
Fortunately, a San Francisco Superior Court judge agreed that this was an injustice and responded by throwing out a state law about mismatched ballots — at least until the law is amended to ensure that voters are notified before a ballot is rejected. The ruling came this week in a lawsuit that La Follette filed against Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Bill Rousseau, Sonoma County’s registrar of voters. In all, the votes of 361 county voters were similarly tossed out because of an apparent mismatch in signatures. Across the state, some 45,000 ballots suffer a similar fate.
Under legislation proposed by state Sen. Mike McGuire, D-Healdsburg, election officials will be required to notify voters when there’s a signature problem with their mail-in ballot and give them an opportunity to fix the problem in time to have their votes counted. Thumbs up to that.