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Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

A federal judge in South Carolina on Tuesday ruled that the state cannot reject absentee ballots because of signature mismatches, the Washington Post reports.

Why it matters: District Judge Richard Mark Gergel said the practice places "a significant burden" on voting rights, and that there is no clear standard for matching signatures. The case is among a slew of election-related litigation to have been before the federal courts during the cycle.

  • "Here, absentee ballots, which meet all statutory requirements under South Carolina law, may nonetheless be disqualified on the basis of a subjective judgment that the voter’s signature does not match some sample relied upon by county election officials," Gergel wrote, per WashPost.
  • "Moreover, a number of the counties conducting signature matching procedures have no or ill-defined procedures for providing affected voters timely notice of a signature mismatch determination or a timely procedure for challenging that determination."

The state of play: The ruling prohibits election boards from rejecting ballots for mismatches without giving voters notice and an opportunity to contest it. Gergel ordered the state to reprocess ballots that had already been thrown out because of mismatches.

What they're saying: "This decision is a significant win for voter confidence in a year when the COVID-19 pandemic has upended our elections with rule changes, delays, and massive surges in mail voting," said Christe McCoy-Lawrence, co-president of the League of Women Voters of South Carolina.

  • "This ruling erases the uncertainty voters might feel about whether their absentee ballot signature may not exactly match a previous one on record.”

Go deeper

Dec 14, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Early voting begins in Georgia's key Senate runoffs

Voters line outside the High Museum polling station in Atlanta, Georgia on the first day of voting in the state's Senate runoffs. Photo: Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

People lined up outside polling places across Georgia on Monday for the first day of early voting in the state's two runoff elections that will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.

The big picture: More than 1.2 million people have already requested mail-in absentee ballots and more than 260,000 have returned them as of Monday, per data compiled by the U.S. Elections Project.

Acting Capitol Police chief: Phone logs show Jan. 6 National Guard approval was delayed

Pittman at a congressional tribute for fallen officer Brian Sicknick. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Acting U.S. Capitol Police chief Yogananda Pittman testified on Thursday that cellphone records show former USCP chief Steven Sund requested National Guard support from the House sergeant-at-arms as early as 12:58pm on Jan. 6, but he did not receive approval until over an hour later.

Why it matters: Sund and former House sergeant-at-arms Paul Irving clashed at a Senate hearing on Tuesday over a dispute in the timeline for when Capitol Police requested the National Guard during the Capitol insurrection.

Manhattan prosecutors reportedly obtain millions of pages of Trump's tax records

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Manhattan district attorney is now in possession of millions of pages of former President Trump's tax and financial records, CNN first reported, following a Supreme Court ruling that allowed prosecutors to enforce a subpoena after a lengthy legal battle.

Why it matters: Trump fought for years to keep his tax returns out of the public eye and away from prosecutors in New York, who are examining his business in a criminal investigation that was first sparked by hush-money payments made by Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen during the 2016 election.