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How to properly return your mail-in ballot to avoid an uncountable 'naked' ballot

Mail-in or absentee ballots without a secrecy envelope will not count

HARRISBURG, Pa. — Ballots are being finalized in Pennsylvania for this 2020 election. People who requested mail-in ballots could begin to receive their ballot next week.

In the envelope containing your ballot will also be instructions, a pre-paid postage envelope to return to your county election office, and a secrecy envelope. Once you've filled out your ballot and are ready to return it, you must place your ballot inside the secrecy envelope, put that into the pre-paid postage envelope, and fill out the voter declaration on the back. 

"This official election secrecy envelope, the use of it is critical to having your vote counted when you return you ballot to the county board of elections," said Randall Wenger, Lancaster County Director of Elections.

Without the secrecy envelope, your vote will not count. The PA Supreme Court recently ruled county election officials must throw out 'naked' ballots, which means a voter did not use a secrecy envelope. 'Naked' ballots were an issue in the June 2nd primary, but election officials still counted those votes. Not being able to count them this election could result in thousands of votes not being counted. 

"We saw many more than we would have liked," said Wenger when discussing the 'naked' ballots the county received in the primary. "We did not keep track of them through the entire process. but the failure to use the secrecy envelope in the primary was widespread."

Ballots are still being finalized across the state, and will begin to be sent out over the next couple of days. Voters who requested a mail-in ballot could receive them as early as next week.

RELATED: 2020 Pennsylvania Election Voting Guide