(NEXSTAR) – If you took the time to click on this headline, you’re probably aware that the 2020 presidential election is likely to come down to some very thin margins over a small handful of states. That means there’s a slight chance that the counting of “cured” ballots could be to 2020 what hanging chads were to the 2000 election.
So what is ballot curing? The process – also known as ballot remediation – allows voters to resolve an issue with a rejected ballot and get it counted. Most commonly this occurs when someone forgot to sign their ballot, or the signature does not appear to match the voter registration on file. A number of states allow this, but the process can vary down to the county level.
Here’s a look at that process in three of the states that were still too close to call as of Wednesday:
According to information published by the state, county officials will contact voters and notify them of rejected ballots. At that point voters must work with the individual county registrars office to resolve the issue.
According to Georgia Democrats, that process typically involves sending a valid photo identification and signed form swearing you are eligible to vote to the county office by email or fax. BallotPedia lists the window for completing this process as three days after the election.
In September. a judge ruled that voters will get up to five days after the election to resolve a mismatched signature issue in Arizona.
While there are few specifics on the process listed on state websites, regulations listed on the Arizona Legislature’s website say “the county recorder or other officer in charge of elections shall make reasonable efforts to contact the voter, advise the voter of the inconsistent signature and allow the voter to correct or the county to confirm the inconsistent signature.”
According to published reports, this will apply only to the mismatched signatures. Ballots with missing signatures will be discarded on Election Day.
Arizona absentee voters can check the status of their ballot through the Secretary of State’s website.
As in Georgia, Nevada voters should be notified within 48 hours by mail of an absent or unmatched signature.
In an interview Deputy Secretary of State for Elections Wayne Thorley gave to The Nevada Independent in May, the state launched a website to streamline the process ahead of the presidential primary. According to Thorley, the documentation sent to voters will include a unique pin that will make it possible to electronically cure ballots on a smartphone with a photo id.
According to BallotPedia, voters have seven days after the election to complete the curing process.
While the numbers of cured ballots may be small, a partisan split in voting behavior makes it likely that cured ballots in several states could net votes for Democrats, potentially narrowing gaps or solidifying vote tally leads.