State of Colorado

Colorado Signature Matching Challenge

Vet Voice Foundation v. Griswold

Lawsuit filed by the Vet Voice Foundation and two Colorado voters against Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D) challenging the state’s use of signature matching (the process by which election officials compare a voter’s signature on a mail-in ballot envelope to that on file in a voter’s registration record). The plaintiffs allege that the state’s “deeply flawed,” “error-prone,” and “arbitrary” signature matching process results in the disenfranchisement of tens of thousands of qualified Colorado voters in violation of the Colorado Constitution. They also contend that signature matching “is much more likely to disenfranchise qualified, legitimate voters,” who are disproportionately young voters and voters of color, “than it is to weed out fraudulent ballots.” 

According to the complaint, “in the 2020 general election, young Black and Hispanic voters’ ballots were rejected for purported signature mismatches approximately 25 times more often than were ballots from older White voters.” The complaint further underscores how signature matching adversely impacts voters with disabilities and military and overseas voters. Moreover, the plaintiffs assert that Colorado provides very limited opportunities for voters to “contest or cure a purported signature defect,” thereby compounding the risk of disenfranchisement. Specifically, Colorado law provides only eight days for curing signature mismatches and imposes the “threat of criminal investigation” on voters who fail to cure a rejected signature on their mail-in ballots. Finally, the plaintiffs argue that signature matching does not serve any compelling state interest given that Colorado has “multiple other safeguards against fraud already in place.” The plaintiffs ultimately ask the court to declare Colorado’s use of signature matching in violation of multiple provisions of the state constitution and to prohibit its use in future elections.

A judge denied the defendant’s request to dismiss the lawsuit. Litigation is ongoing. A trial is scheduled to begin in January 2024.

STATUS: On January 19, 2024, the court allowed the plaintiffs to appeal a decision on summary judgment. Litigation is ongoing.

Case Documents

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