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The Perfect Match: Solving the Due Process Problem of Signature Matching with Federal Agency Regulation

Posted by on Wednesday, April 13, 2022 in Notes, Volume 24, Volume 24, Issue 1.

Rachel Blumenstein | 24 Vand. J. Ent. & Tech. L. 121 (2021)

Local election commissions in the United States disenfranchise Americans when they erroneously reject voters’ mail-in ballots for failed signature matches. Disenfranchisement is not only problematic because it is dangerous to the health of American democracy, but also because signature matching violates the procedural due process protections voters are entitled to when they exercise their right to vote. Furthermore, the practice of signature matching is one of many ballot access restrictions that disproportionately impact minority voters under the guise of voter fraud prevention. Expanding the Election Assistance Commission’s mandate to allow it to develop more accurate methods of ballot verification can reduce the risk of erroneously depriving a person of the right to vote. Currently, most voting-rights-related suits are brought under the Fourteenth Amendment as equal protection or substantive due process claims. The few procedural due process claims that are made assert that the right to vote is protected as a liberty interest.

The right to vote is more properly framed as a property interest because eligible people are entitled to the right through state statutes. Moreover, an executive agency is well equipped to solve a procedural due process problem because the law demands that the agency’s rules and regulations be supported with adequate data and sound reasoning, thereby reducing the risk of erroneous deprivation of the right at stake. Ensuring that every eligible voter who wishes to cast a ballot can do so is essential to maintaining the public’s faith in democracy, and thereby essential to maintaining democracy itself.

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Rachel Blumenstein