Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court Prohibits Election Officials From Counting ‘Naked Ballots’; PA Voters Must Use Secrecy Envelopes

September 24, 2020

Last week, Pennsylvania’s State Supreme Court ordered election officials not to count so-called “naked ballots” in the 2020 Election. These are mail-in ballots that arrive without an inner secrecy envelope. Pennsylvania's two-envelope ballot system includes a "secrecy envelope" that does not have personally identifiable information. The purpose of the secrecy envelope is to ensure that voter privacy is protected, but the state Supreme Court has now ruled that failure to lose the envelope would invalidate a ballot. There is a concern that voters who are submitting their ballots by mail for the first time might not understand the two-envelope system. The state has committed to increasing voter outreach and education to ensure that voters understand the need to use the secrecy envelope. Voters should check the Pennsylvania Mail-in & Absentee Ballots webpage and instructional video for more information on how to properly vote by mail. If Pennsylvania voters provide their email when registering for a mail-in ballot, they can receive ballot application and processing information. Voters can also track the status of their ballots online. Pennsylvania voters' mail-in ballot must be postmarked or returned to a designated drop off location by 8pm on Election Day. Anyone who is voting by mail or absentee should track the status of their ballots, and EPIC recently launched an interactive map to link voters to their state election resources.

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