A federal judge issued a ruling Thursday that will allow some Florida voters additional time to “cure” their ballots, adding another layer of uncertainty to the ongoing recount in the state.
Judge Mark Walker found that a law requiring that signatures on a voter’s ballot match state records had been applied unconstitutionally. As such, voters whose mail-in or provisional ballots were not counted due to signature matching issues will have until 5 p.m. on Saturday to provide proof of identity to “cure” their ballot and possibly have their vote counted.
In his ruling, Walker noted that “there are dozens of reasons a signature mismatch may occur, even when the individual signing is in fact the voter.” But he clarified that the ruling does not order “every mismatched vote” to be counted. Rather it is intended to allow “those voters who should have had an opportunity to cure their ballots in the first place to cure their vote-by-mail and provisional ballots now, before the second official results are fully counted.”
He concluded that many of the voters whose ballots were not counted had not been given adequate time to fix the discrepancy, while provisional voters are not given an opportunity to resolve such issues at all under state law.
While the total number of affected ballots is not known, there are at least 4,000 that were cast aside across 45 counties in Florida, according to The Washington Post. With Gov. Rick Scott leading Sen. Bill Nelson by fewer than 13,000 votes in the Florida Senate race, these ballots could make the difference between a loss for Nelson and a manual recount.
As it stands, the machine recount faces a Thursday afternoon deadline. If the difference in votes for the two candidates is less than 0.25%, it will proceed to a manual recount. The election is due to be certified at 9 a.m. on Nov. 20.
Walker’s decision follows a suit filed by Nelson last week. Scott’s campaign announced that it would appeal Walker’s ruling.