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WAC 434-261-050

Unsigned ballot declaration or mismatched signatures.

(1) If a voter neglects to sign a ballot declaration, signs with a mark and fails to have two witnesses attest to the signature, or signs but the signature on the ballot declaration does not match the signature on the voter registration record, the county auditor shall notify the voter by first class mail of the correct procedures for curing the signature. If the ballot is received during the last three business days before the final meeting of the canvassing board, or the voter has been notified by first class mail and has not responded by the last three business days before the final meeting of the canvassing board, the county auditor must attempt to notify the voter by telephone using information in the voter registration record.
(2) If the voter neglects to sign, or signs with a mark and fails to have two witnesses attest to the signature, the voter must either:
(a) Appear in person and sign the declaration no later than the day before certification of the primary or election; or
(b) Sign a copy of the declaration, or mark the declaration in front of two witnesses, and return it to the county auditor no later than the day before certification of the primary or election.
(3) If the signature on the declaration does not match the signature on the voter registration record, the voter must either:
(a) Appear in person and sign a new registration form no later than the day before certification of the primary or election. The updated signature provided on the registration form becomes the signature in the voter registration record for the current election and future elections; or
(b) Sign a signature update form that includes both the ballot declaration required by WAC 434-230-015 and the voter registration oath required by RCW 29A.08.230, and return it to the county auditor no later than the day before certification of the primary or election. The signature on the signature update form must match the signature on the returned ballot declaration. The signature provided on the signature update form becomes the signature in the voter registration record for the current election and future elections.
(4)(a) If the signature on the declaration does not match the signature on the registration record because the last name is different, the ballot may be counted as long as the first name and handwriting are clearly the same. If it appears that the voter has changed his or her name, and the information required under RCW 29A.08.440 to complete a name change is not provided or is illegible, the county auditor shall send the voter a change-of-name form under RCW 29A.08.440 and direct the voter to complete the form.
(b) If the signature on the ballot declaration does not match the signature on the registration record because the voter signed with a middle name, nickname, or initials, the ballot may be counted as long as the last name and handwriting are clearly the same.
(5) If the name on the signature does not match the printed name, and the signature on the ballot declaration does not match the signature on the voter registration record, because the ballot was signed by another registered voter, the ballot may be counted for the registered voter who actually signed the ballot declaration if:
(a) The voter who signed the declaration can be identified;
(b) The signature on the declaration matches the signature on the voter registration record; and
(c) The voter who signed the declaration has not returned another ballot.
The county auditor may only count the races and measures for which the voter who signed the declaration is eligible to vote.
(6) Disposition of other ballot signature circumstances:
(a) Ballot signed by a voter's signature stamp. The county auditor shall accept the signature stamp if it is accompanied by the signatures of two witnesses. Without the witness signatures, the county auditor shall process the ballot in the same manner as an unsigned ballot.
(b) Ballot declaration signed by a different voter and that voter has already submitted a ballot. If the county auditor receives a ballot where the ballot declaration is signed with the signature of a person who has previously submitted a ballot, the county auditor shall refer the ballot to the canvassing board for rejection. If the ballot was identified by staff on or before election day, the county auditor must attempt to contact the voter to whom the ballot was issued by phone, email, or if time allows, by mail and provide the voter a replacement ballot.
(7) If it is determined that the signature on a ballot declaration does not match the signature on the registration record and, prior to 8:00 p.m. on election day, the registered voter asserts that the signature on the ballot declaration is not his or her signature, the voter may be provided the opportunity to vote a replacement ballot.
(8) A voter may not cure a missing or mismatched signature for purposes of counting the ballot in a recount.
(9) A record must be kept of all ballots with missing and mismatched signatures. The record must contain the date on which the voter was contacted or the notice was mailed, as well as the date on which the voter subsequently submitted a signature to cure the missing or mismatched signature. That record is a public record under chapter 42.56 RCW and may be disclosed to interested parties on written request.
[Statutory Authority: RCW 29A.04.611, 29A.24.091, 29A.24.311, 29A.60.021, 29A.60.185, 29A.60.170, 29A.60.110, and 29A.60.235. WSR 19-01-102, § 434-261-050, filed 12/18/18, effective 1/18/19. Statutory Authority: RCW 29A.04.611. WSR 12-14-074, § 434-261-050, filed 7/2/12, effective 8/2/12. Statutory Authority: RCW 29A.04.611, 29A.04.620, and 29A.04.630. WSR 11-24-064, § 434-261-050, filed 12/6/11, effective 1/6/12. Statutory Authority: RCW 29A.04.611, 29A.08.420, 29A.24.131, 29A.40.110, 29A.46.020, and 29A.80.041. WSR 10-14-091, § 434-261-050, filed 7/6/10, effective 8/6/10. Statutory Authority: RCW 29A.04.611. WSR 06-23-094, § 434-261-050, filed 11/15/06, effective 12/16/06; WSR 06-14-050, § 434-261-050, filed 6/28/06, effective 7/29/06; WSR 05-17-145, § 434-261-050, filed 8/19/05, effective 9/19/05.]
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