As more Washington residents submit their ballots ahead of the Nov. 8 deadline, KREM 2 looked into the process behind verifying signatures on the envelopes.

After residents drop their ballot in the mail or a ballot box, it is sent to the Spokane County Elections Office where it joins thousands and thousands of others just like it. In fact, the Spokane office is anticipating upwards of 100,000 submitted ballots on Nov. 7-8. A good number will show up in less than pristine condition, with everything from tears to coffee stains. Most are not enough of a problem to potentially stop a vote from being counted, but there's one non-negotiable that can result in a problem: the signature.

Spokane County Auditory Vicky Dalton says matching the signature on the ballot envelope to the one of the voter is a key identification step, verifying the he or she filled out the ballot, is a citizen, and is qualified to vote.

"They do not need to be a perfect match," Dalton explained. "We're looking for things like speed, slope, and a variety of characteristics."

A group of election office employees look to match those signature characteristics with a screenshot of the voter's signature from registration. This is why an envelope left blank, or one accidentally signed by a spouse, will be rejected.

Dalton says they will get as many as 3 percent of ballots with some sort of signature problem. The issues can be rectified, but here is what you need to know: if you get a call or a letter from the elections office, answer it. That is how they get will reach you to sort out the problem, ensuring your vote is still counted.