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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: The One Place Your Signature Still Matters - Cheddar Explains

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There are six surviving signatures from William Shakespeare.

Here's his signature from a court case deposition in 1612.

There's another from when he bought a house in 1613 and another for the mortgage.

He signed his name in three different places on his will in 1616.

But for having arguably the most famous name in England after Queen Elizabeth,

he was really inconsistent in how he signed up.

Each one of these is different.

Historians are confident, they're all authentic.

Signing his name differently three times in his will didn't prevent Shakespeare from

leaving his second best bed to his widow after he died.

Shakespeare isn't so different from a lot of people today.

He signed his name differently in different places for different reasons.

Ever done this at the checkout line?

But if Bill Shakespeare had been born 500 years later in the United States,

his different signatures could have prevented him from voting.

A signature is required for big stuff like buying a house or getting married.

But you can make any mark you want,

it doesn't matter what it looks like.

All that's required is,

the person doing the signing,

is the one entering into the agreement and that signing didn't happen under duress.

It's a kitty cat. A distinct signature is rooted more in our culture than in the law.

It wasn't really a thing until the 20th century.

Penmanship was standardized in schools for technique and legibility.

Handwriting lessons reinforced discipline in order.

The personalized signature was a form of expression,

a way to rebel with pen and ink.

Signatures became linked to identity and autographs

became a way to memorialize celebrities and athletes.

Disney Motion Pictures built its entire brand around Walt Disney's signature.

It also happens to be a decent way of snuffing out bank fraud.

Banks used to have rooms of people comparing signatures on cheques.

Clerks would verify hundreds of signatures an hour,

but it can be really difficult to spot a forgery.

Like those autographs from earlier, they're fakes,

part of a forgery ring that was only broken up after a years long FBI sting operation.

Technology has dramatically improved fraud prevention and detection.

Pin numbers in chip cards have made signature's less necessary.

The need for handwriting overall has dropped significantly.

Only 10 states require elementary students to be taught cursive.

As a result, we just don't care about what our signatures look like anymore.

Who hasn't been like, "Yeah, sure, FedEx man,

my signature is just a half written squiggly line,

just give me my package."

Who really needs an autograph anymore?

Millennials were panned for turning their backs on candidate Hillary Clinton to

snap selfies after this campaign photo went viral.

In the 21st century convenience is a top priority.

Along with streamlined signature free transactions,

we also got more convenient elections.

Since 1998, 22 states have allowed for some form of mail and or absentee voting,

and it accounted for almost a quarter of all votes cast in the 2016 election.

This is generally a good thing because by

mail voting has been linked to higher voter turnout.

But mail in voters are required to sign their ballots in order for them to be counted.

That signature is verified against the signature the state has on file,

usually from the DMV.

Here's my signature from when I signed my license at

16 and here it is now, pretty different.

Non-matching signature's was the number one reason for mail in

ballots being rejected in the 2016 election.

But almost no one has a consistent signature anymore, no one.

Walt Disney's signature changed throughout the course of his entire lifetime.

His iconic signature was actually penned after his death.

Take another look at my license,

but don't look at my license picture, thank you.

It was also signed by Eric Boyette,

the North Carolina Commissioner of Motor Vehicles.

Here's the signature again on a federal grant application.

It's almost as if you can hear him say,

meh as he scribbled this one.

Evaluating a signature is left mostly to the discretion of elections officials.

States provide very few guidelines on how to compare

signatures other than encouraging officials to use their best judgment.

A federal judge in 2018 declared New Hampshire's process of

evaluating signatures on ballots fundamentally flawed and unconstitutional.

Elections officials there were given no training in handwriting analysis.

This process disproportionately affects young voters who are four times more

likely to have their ballots rejected because of

non-matching signatures according to the ACLU.

In New Hampshire, an elections moderator gave sworn testimony that he was

more forgiving of inconsistent signatures on

absentee ballots that were postmarked from nursing homes.

It's great that grandma gets the benefit of the doubt,

but the granddaughter doesn't,

whose closest thing to having a consistent signature is

consistently using the puppy dog filter in her Snapchat stories.

Absentee ballots make up a very small percentage of

voting totals but they have the potential to really matter in close races.

In the very tight 2018 midterms in Georgia and Florida,

officials rejected ballots with

mismatched signatures but didn't inform the affected voters.

Judges had to issue injunctions to give those voters time to fix their ballots.

So, if you do happen to have designed for something,

go wild, make whatever mark you want.

But maybe practice your John Hancock for election day.

Is there anything you think we should still sign for or is the signature officially dead?

Let us know in the comments below and like and

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