The term “naked ballot” refers to a mail-in or absentee ballot that is returned without its secrecy envelope.
This is the first year that Pennsylvania has allowed no-excuse mail in voting, and the primary produced nearly 1.5 million mail-in ballots. Election officials expect those mail-in ballot figures to increase to about 3 million for the general election in November, and potentially over 100,000 mail-in ballots that could be rejected in the general election. And some forecasters think those rejections could be even higher.
Considering that President Donald Trump won in 2016 by about 44,000 votes, the consequences of that many mail-in ballots being rejected could easily sway the Pennsylvania election, which has the ability to sway the election for the entire country.
So, Pittsburgh City Paper wants voters to be informed on “naked ballots” and secrecy envelopes. Also, if you want to learn more about the entire vote-by-mail process, see CP’s handy explainer on mail-in voting.
What exactly is a naked ballot?A naked ballot is one that is returned to county election offices, but not inside the secrecy envelope. Mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania come with three components (as well as instructions). The ballot that you fill-out by selecting candidates, the secrecy envelope that you place your ballot in, and the declaration envelope which you will sign after placing your secrecy-envelope enclosed ballot.
The secrecy envelope (shown below) is the envelope that only has "Official Mail-in Ballot" written on the front. Fill out your ballot, fold it, and then enclose it in that secrecy envelope and seal it. Mailing the ballot "naked," aka outside of the secrecy envelope, but still within the declaration envelope means your vote will not count.
cover the costs as a way to increase mail-in voting accessability.
CP’s mail-in voting explainer.)
Pennsylvania counties are also allowed to drop-off mail-in and absentee ballots at official drop-off boxes. Locations for drop-off boxes have not been established, so stay tuned.
Why you must use a secrecy envelope when returning your mail-in ballotOn Sept. 17, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that naked ballots for mail-in voting would be rejected outright for the general election. Voting advocates criticized that specific ruling, but here we are, and they have switched gears to try to inform as many voters as possible about the secrecy envelope requirement.
If a ballot is returned just in the declaration envelope, it won’t count. It’s that simple. Below is an example of a Democratic primary election ballot from Allegheny County.
WTAE’s David Kaplan, that have gone viral.
More than 100,000 votes being discounted would surely be a tragedy, and could lead to chaos in the weeks following Nov. 3. So tell your friends about naked ballots, and share this and other stories on social media. Let’s cover up those ballots!
Don't let your mail-in ballot go naked - use BOTH envelopes when you return your ballot!— LWVGPittsburgh (@LWVGPittsburgh) September 23, 2020
If you want to vote by mail for the upcoming election, apply for a mail-in ballot NOW as https://t.co/mgnyWO27bh pic.twitter.com/e643P08HIB