Q: I had a question about the ballots that aren't counted because of signature recognition issues.

I am 88-years-old and I know my signature is a little shaky now. I wonder if those ballots are unopened and put away because the signature doesn't match the registration signature. People who are voting who have that problem are not aware their ballots are not counted.

Next year, or next election, it's going to be the same thing. (Elections officials) are not going to recognize the signature and they're going to put the ballot away. So people are being robbed of their right to vote because of their problem.

If they are not made aware of this by a phone call or a letter from the elections department, the same thing will happen again forever.

— Charles Duran

A: Kern County elections chief Karen Rhea responded:

We have a progression of signatures on file. When we receive a signature from a voter that has changed significantly in the time since his/her registration was executed, we send out a form so that we may obtain an updated signature.

Most often signatures remain recognizable even as they change. When we are not able to match a voter's signature at all, we follow up after the election by sending him or her a new registration form to complete to provide us with a new signature.

Voters are provided with instructions in the sample ballot and in the ballot packet on how to check our website for the status of their returned ballot.

Ask TBC appears in the printed paper on Mondays. Submit questions to asktbc@bakersfield.com or to The Bakersfield Californian, c/o Christine Bedell, P.O. Bin 440, Bakersfield, CA 93302.