Every election, hundreds of thousands of ballots are rejected over simple errors. In some states, your ballot might be rejected for reasons completely outside of your control. For example, 32 states use some form of signature matching to verify ballots. Your vote might not be counted because the signature on your ballot doesn’t match the signature you used when you first registered to vote.
While signature matching laws and other forms of discarding eligible ballots need to be reformed, many states provide a way for voters to correct their ballots and still have them count. This is called the cure process.
Here are a few things you need to know about the cure process:
1. Check if your state notifies you if your ballot has been rejected and what opportunities you have, if any, to fix any mistakes.
2. Understand the various reasons that might cause your ballot to be rejected including, but not limited to:
- Missing or mismatched voter signature
- Missing witness signature or address
- “Spoiled” ballot — a ballot with stray markings or with votes for more candidates than permitted in the race
- Failure to place your ballot in a secrecy envelope, like the naked ballot issue in Pennsylvania
3. Learn about the ways your state contacts you if you need to fix your ballot.
Ahead of November, most states have set up a form of ballot tracking where you can check if your ballot was received and counted. But there are many other ways a state could inform you to fix your ballot.
Keep an eye out for these forms of contact after you cast your ballot:
- An email from your local elections office
- Physical mail alerting you to fix your ballot
- Communications from a political campaign, which could come in the form of a phone call, email or even a volunteer knocking on your door
If you are contacted in any of these ways, respond as soon as you can to correct the problem and have your ballot count.
Ultimately, the best way to make sure your vote counts when voting by mail is to vote early. Voting early allows you to have as much time as possible to confirm your ballot is received and counted.
The process of voting isn’t done once you drop your ballot in the mail. Knowing how to cure your ballot, and sharing the process with your friends and family, is an important step to make sure your voice is heard in November.