State law governing voter registration does not require a “wet signature” and asignature can be affixed electronically if the application form is completed “on-line”
Informal Opinions of the Attorney General, Informal Opinion 2016-1
Dennis M. Brown, Suffolk County’s County Attorney, explaining that Suffolk County was considering a voter registration system that would allow an individual to register to vote by completing an application online, wrote to the Attorney General to inquire if state law governing voter registration requires that the signature of a registrant be hand written, i.e., written with ink, or a “wet signature.”
Kathryn Sheingold, Assistant Solicitor General in Charge of Opinions, responding to Mr. Brown, opined that “state law governing voter registration does not require a wet signature,” indicating that a signature can be affixed electronically as the “election law does not specifically require a signature written with ink on a voter registration application.” However, cautioned Ms. Sheingold, “the technology … must capture a handwritten signature that can be incorporated into the registration records and compared with the signature that the applicant will write at the polling location at the time of voting.”*
Another element to consider relating to a registration application completed online is that the application, once so completed, would have to either (a) be printed and mailed to the local board of elections by the applicant or a third party assisting the applicant or (b) be completed by appearing at the local board of elections. Otherwise, said Ms. Sheingold, “the County would be creating a new system of registration rather than using the existing system outlined by the Legislature.”
Ms. Sheingold’s response to the Suffolk County Attorney is posted on the Internet at:
Although the Attorney General issues Formal Opinions only to officers and departments of State government, Informal Opinions are prepared by the Attorney General’s Office of the Solicitor General in Charge of Opinions in response to inquiries from officers of a political subdivision of the State.
* Presumably the signature written on the envelope enclosing an absentee ballot submitted by the voter would be compared with electronic signature incorporated into the voter registration records.