Judge lets Florida voters fix ballot signature; Rick Scott appeals ruling

Deadline set for 5 p.m. Saturday

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter, Associated Press, John Ambrogne - Executive Producer, Mark Lehman - Reporter

ORLANDO, Fla. - A federal judge is giving some Florida voters more time to fix issues with signatures on their mail-in ballots following the 2018 midterm election. 

In an early morning ruling Thursday, U.S. District Judge Mark Walker ruled voters who were notified after the initial deadline that the signature on their ballot didn't match the signature on file now have until 5 p.m. Saturday to go to their Supervisor of Elections office to resolve the issue. 

Gov. Rick Scott, who leads Sen. Bill Nelson by more than 10,000 votes in the race for U.S. Senate, will appeal the ruling.

“We are immediately appealing this baseless decision and we are confident we will prevail in the Eleventh Circuit. Let’s be clear -- Bill Nelson’s high-priced Washington lawyers went to court to argue against a process that they previously argued for. It’s worth noting that Marc Elias is currently making THE EXACT OPPOSITE ARGUMENT in a similar case in Arizona. This also follows recent reports of the Democratic party encouraging and instructing voters to try to vote days after the legal deadline. Another day, another chance for Marc Elias to rack up massive legal fees regardless of the blatant hypocrisy… or the damage this will do to Bill Nelson’s legacy," Scott campaign spokeswoman Lauren Schenone said in a statement.

Democrats were asking U.S. District Judge Mark Walker to throw out Florida's existing signature match law. They testified for five hours Wednesday in a federal courtroom in Tallahassee.

They said untrained experts should not be allowed to decide if someone's signature on a mail-in ballot doesn't match the signature included on a registration form that could be years old.

The lawsuit is one of a half-dozen related to Florida's ongoing recount that involves three statewide races, including U.S. Senate, governor and agriculture commissioner.

Election officials testified that nearly 4,000 mail-in and provisional ballots have been rejected so far because of mismatched signatures.

News 6 found that 466 mail-in ballots were set aside in Orange County due to signatures not matching.

It is unclear what impact the decision will have on the recount deadline, which had been set for 3 p.m. Thursday. 

Stay with News 6 and ClickOrlando.com for updates on this developing story. 

Copyright 2018 by WKMG ClickOrlando. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.