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Mailed ballots can't be discarded over signature, Pennsylvania Department of State says

MARC LEVY
Associated Press
FILE - In this May 27, 2020 file photo, a worker processes mail-in ballots at the Bucks County Board of Elections office prior to the primary election in Doylestown, Pa.  In every U.S. presidential election, thousands of ballots are rejected and never counted. They may have arrived after Election Day or were missing a voter's signature. That number will be far higher this year as the coronavirus pandemic forces tens of millions of Americans to vote by mail for the first time.  (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

HARRISBURG — With concerns rising in Pennsylvania that tens of thousands of mail-in ballots will be discarded in the presidential election over technicalities, state officials told counties that they cannot reject a ballot solely because an election official believes a signature doesn't match the signature in the voter’s file.

The new guidance from Pennsylvania's Department of State prompted the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania and the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh to drop a lawsuit in federal court Monday.

The groups had sought to ensure that voters have the chance to fix ballots that are either missing signatures or flagged for a perceived signature mismatch.

A 2019 state law greatly expanded access to mail-in balloting in Pennsylvania and, fueled by concerns over the pandemic, more than 3 million voters are expected to cast ballots by mail in the Nov. 3 presidential election.

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That's roughly 10 times the number who voted by mail in the battleground state in 2016's election when President Donald Trump's 44,000-vote victory over Democrat Hillary Clinton in Pennsylvania helped propel him to the White House.

In Pennsylvania's June 2 primary election alone, when 1.5 million voted by mail, more than 26,000 of ballots were rejected, including for “signature-related errors or matters of penmanship," the lawsuit said.