Judge: Texas voters must be notified of signature issues

FILE - Generic gavel on wodden table.

Texas voters must be notified of any issues with their signature on mailed-in ballots, a federal judge ruled after finding a step in the state's signature verification process unconstitutional.

In a ruling late Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia said the process used by Texas officials to determine whether someone's signature on a ballot envelope matched the signature on the person's vote-by-mail application violated "certain voters' constitutional rights."

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Garcia ordered the Texas secretary of state to inform local election officials within 10 days that it is unconstitutional to reject a ballot based a perceived issue with the signature without notifying the voter and giving the person a "meaningful" chance to fix the problem.

Texas allows people to apply for a mail-in ballot if they are 65 or older; disabled; outside of the county on Election Day and during early voting; or confined in jail, but otherwise eligible to vote.

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Garcia's ruling comes after a lawsuit filed over a year ago by the League of Women Voters of Texas, Austin Justice Coalition, Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, MOVE Texas Civic Fund, and individuals Dr. George Richardson and Rosalie Weisfeld. The lawsuit said local officials had rejected some mail-in ballots because they didn't believe the signatures on the ballot envelope matched the application.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.