Election administrators anecdotally mention that many ballots get signed by someone else in the household, such as the husband signing the wife's ballot. If household members are signing each other's ballots mistakenly, then there should be a rise in mismatched signatures as the number of people in the household increases. By matching household addresses of registered voters and the addresses that ballots were mailed to from the 2020 Florida general election, the study found that the probability of a signature mismatch did increase as the number of household members increased. While the data showed that black and Hispanic households have more people in a household, the household size did not account for the higher rates of signature mismatches among blacks and Hispanics. This research proposes placing the voter's name under the signature line to reduce the number of mismatched signatures. Other envelope design features, such as arrows, power of attorney notices, and layout, were measured to determine the effectiveness of envelope designs. Simpler design features were more effective. If the voter's name can be added under the signature line without disruption, it could decrease the number of ballots signed by the wrong household member. Overall, household members signing the wrong ballot contribute approximately one additional mismatched signature per 100,000 ballots. With over 15 million voters in Florida, where close elections and recounts are the norm, preventing this problem from occurring can make a difference in electoral outcomes.
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Master of Arts (M.A.)
College of Sciences
School of Politics, Security and International Affairs
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Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Wilding, Craig, "Mail Ballot Signature Rejections: Household Members Signing Each Other's Ballots" (2021). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 943.