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Broward Elections Office Gives Inside Look At Vote-By-Mail Signature Matching Ahead Of Election Day

Caitie Switalski Muñoz
The Broward County Elections Office in Lauderhill on a rainy Friday morning.

On a rainy Friday in Lauderhill, political parties, candidates and the press got a rare inside look at how signatures get matched on vote-by-mail ballot envelopes.

Political parties and candidates are allowed to inspect ballots every day in Broward County. That usually means attorneys are looking at recently returned vote-by-mail ballot envelopes to make sure they have signatures. They can look, but they can't touch the envelopes.

Friday morning the parties also got a one-time chance to compare the signatures on a batch of random, sealed vote-by-mail ballots to the signatures that the elections office has on file.

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It was a brief process, about 15 minutes of review that started a half an hour after the originally scheduled time. But the attorneys present didn't seem to mind.

Broward County's Supervisor of Elections, Peter Antonacci, said he felt opening the inspection up speaks to better transparency.

"You know, many people have questions about the way signatures are verified," Antonacci said. "And I think people have portrayed it in a way that doesn't give it credit for what we do here to make sure that every vote counts and every vote properly counts."

The request to do this additional signature comparison was requested by the Republican Party.

"Every morning the political parties show up here and inspect the ballots and we supervise that. They don't touch the ballots. They look at them. And so what we had here today was an expansion of that exercise," Antonacci said. "We also provided copies of the signatures that we have on file for every voter to compare them to the voter certificate signatures that are on the outside of the ballot envelope. We're very proud of the job that we do. And we wanted the whole world to see it."

Later in the day Friday, election officials that make up the local canvassing board were meeting to spend time looking at overseas ballots. They are continuing to meet every couple of days as the general election draws closer.

Early voting officially begins Monday, Oct. 19. In Broward County, there are 22 sites to choose from to either vote in person or drop off your vote-by-mail ballot at a secure drop box.

Some other states, like Georgia, have seen long lines at the start of their early voting periods. But Antonacci said he doesn't think that will happen here.

"I don't think that we're going to have in-person voting experiences like we've had in the past simply because there's not enough voters out there to make for lines. I don't anticipate lines except the Sunday before Election Day. There is a lot of political organizing around the Sunday before Election Day," Antonacci said. "Our voters are taking advantage of vote-by-mail."

So far, more than 570,000 vote-by-mail ballots have been sent to Broward County voters and about 200,000 have been returned.

Caitie Switalski Muñoz
A drop box slot for vote-by-mail ballots at the Broward County Supervisor of Elections Office in Lauderhill.