Does Poor Penmanship Affect Elections?


It seems like a silly question, doesn’t it? But it’s one being asked: Does poor penmanship affect the outcome of elections?

According to sources quoted in an Electionline Weekly story recently, the answer is, simply: Not really.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Penmanship oddly enough is pretty consistent throughout a person’s life, and election administrators get training from signature experts at our State Patrol,” Wyman said. “Sometimes we’ll see our younger voters change their signature style when they move into a professional setting, and sometimes our older voters’ handwriting will change due to illness, arthritis, stroke or something like that. We then work with them on a new signature.”

In Oregon, the state contacted about 13,000 voters whose signatures on their vote-by-mail ballot did not match a signature the state had on file.

According to the Tony Green, spokesman for the Oregon Secretary of State’s office, less than 1 percent of the 1.5 million ballots cast were not initially counted because the signature didn’t match or the voter did not sign the envelope.

Ultimately about 66 percent of the 13,000 voters corrected their signature problems.

But a valid question, nonetheless.

Think about it: With more states moving to no-excuse absentee ballots and even all-mail elections, a voter’s signature is extremely important, as is the legibility of the name he or she might scrawl for a write-in, ballot initiative or nominating petition.

Now consider this: The question comes at a time when cursive is not being actively taught because of Common Core curriculum standards in many states.

The story addressed that, too. Here’s one final excerpt:

“The challenges will get greater as we have more and more students who reach 18 and have not learned to sign their name.”

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, while several states have introduced legislation requiring cursive writing as part of the curriculum, only four states — Idaho, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee — have actually approved such legislation in varying forms.

Wyman said she’s sorry to see some schools not providing instruction in cursive handwriting and would support a mandate for that.

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