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How ballot signatures are verified in Arizona

Voters have to sign the front of the ballot envelope so election officials can check to make sure it came from the correct voter.

PHOENIX — With all this attention on mail-in voting during the 2020 election, you might be wondering how election officials know the ballot turned in is from the right voter.

A big part of verifying this is checking signatures. 

But before we get into that, it is important to note the verification process starts much sooner for those on the permanent early voting list. Voters get a form to confirm their address or change their address a few months before elections.

Okay, back to signatures. 

Voters have to sign the front of the envelope their ballot is in so election officials can check to make sure the ballot came from the correct voter. 

A county recorder or another election official compares the signatures on the envelope with the voter's signature from their voter registration, according to a spokesperson from the secretary of state's office. 

For the next layer of protection, the election official should also look at signatures from other documents like early ballot request forms or past voting documents. 

RELATED: Map: Where to vote in Maricopa County

If the signatures match, the county recorder marks the unopened envelope showing that they were satisfied with the signature. 

The envelopes remain unopened until they can be counted. Ballots that do not make it past this step cannot be counted. 

Ballots that aren't counted are tracked and reported. 

If the signatures do not look to match up, the county recorder will try to contact the voter by phone, text, email or mail. 

RELATED: Everything you need to know for the 2020 election in Arizona

The voter will have a chance to correct or confirm the signature.

"Voters must be permitted to correct or confirm an inconsistent signature until 5:00 p.m. on the fifth business day after a primary, general, or special election that includes a federal office or the third business day after any other election," the spokesperson explained.  

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