Mismatched signatures will temporarily invalidate your ballot

Tuesday's primary election marks the first time a controversial new voting law has gone into effect. It temporarily makes your ballot invalid if the signature on it doesn't match the one on record with the state. The law also allows candidates to eventually contact you if you don't take action.

When it comes to validating signatures, sometimes officials get it wrong, as Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown knows all too well.

"It happened to me," Brown said, "I got a letter from my county clerk. This was a few years ago, saying the signature didn't match on my ballot."

Brown then went to her county elections office, showed her ID and proved her identity so her vote could be counted.

"It didn't match," Brown said, "So it made sense for them to have me come down and provide proof of identity."

The situation has happened to other voters, of course, who are sometimes a little less understanding.

"If they're gonna sit there and ding me for the way I sign an envelope, that ain't right," complained Bob, a voter in Salem, who says he's cast ballots in just about every election in Oregon since he moved here in 2005.

Until now, he says he's never had any problems.

"They shoved my ballot aside because the signature doesn't match," Bob said. "I got put in the reject box."

If your signature doesn't match, you have until 14 days after Election Day to prove your identity by mail or in person. In the past, you got only ten days.

"People's signatures change over time," said Brown, "That's why we decided to expand the time voters had to prove their identity."

If you don't respond to the signature letter by the eighth day after an election, politicians can then get your contact information and remind you to make sure your vote counts.

"Candidates and campaigns wanted to know who these voters are so they could contact them," said Brown.

"If some politician contacted me," Bob said. "I might've just said I'm gonna retire from voting now."

The secretary of state says an average of around 7,600 ballots per election are disqualified because of mismatched signatures or because they have no signatures at all.