What to do if your ballot has a signature problem or you make other mistakes

By Madeleine Brand,
October 13, 2020


The unofficial ballot drop box controversy isn’t the only reason U.S. voters are anxious. People also have questions about mail-in voting, such as how to know if they signed in the right place, and whether their signatures will be recognized.

Kim Alexander, president of California Voter Foundation, says to make sure your ballot signature looks like the one on your driver’s license. 

“If there is a problem with your signature … it doesn’t happen a lot, but it is one of the leading reasons ballots get rejected. Before your ballot would be rejected, your county has to contact you and provide you with a chance to submit a new signature,” Alexander says. “So this is a good reason to sign up for ballot tracking because you will get notified immediately if there is a problem with your ballot or your signature."

But people can end up making all sorts of mistakes. 

“If you really made your ballot unreadable or spilled coffee on that, you probably want to get a new ballot. You can do that by calling your county’s election office and asking them to void out the ballot they sent you and ask for a new one,” she explains. 

You can also get a new ballot by going to a vote site, and many will start opening on October 24, says Alexander. 

“But if you just made a little mistake, like maybe you filled in the wrong oval, you can cross it off and fill in the correct oval. If you write on your ballot, draw pictures on it … [or] write your initials on it, they will have to remake that ballot.”

In California, 72% of residents voted by mail in the March primary, so Alexander says California is better equipped than many states to handle the extra mail again, especially if people send in their ballots early. (Full Story)