A federal judge on Tuesday invalidated a New Hampshire law aimed at identifying voter fraud, saying it was unfair to judge voters by their signatures.
The law required election officials to match signatures from voters’ applications for absentee ballots with their signatures on their actual ballots. If officials deemed them a mismatch, the ballots were tossed.
Some 275 voters had their ballots disqualified during the 2016 election.
Judge Landya McCafferty said the measure violated the voters’ due process rights because they did not have a way to challenge their vote being tossed.
The court also found issue with election monitors, who weren’t handwriting experts, being the arbitrators.
“In law and in practice, the ultimate determination is left to the sole discretion of the moderator and is almost entirely insulated from meaningful scrutiny,” the judge said.
The American Civil Liberties Union had challenged the law, saying it violated the Constitution and discriminated against people with disabilities. One of the plaintiffs, whose vote was tossed, was blind.
“We’ve said all along that people should not be denied their fundamental right to vote because of penmanship. We’re glad the court agreed,” said Gilles Bissonnette, legal director of the ACLU of New Hampshire.
Courts have also been critical of signature-matching laws in Arizona and Illinois.
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