Hey Pennsylvania! You Have to Mail Both Your Ballot Envelopes to Have Your Vote Count in the Election (Pass It On)

Normally, naked is good, very good. But when it comes to Pennsylvania ballots in this year’s presidential election, naked is very, very bad. If you live in the Quaker State and are voting by mail this year, you better cross your T’s and dot your I’s. Why? Because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently ruled that county election offices can no longer count naked ballots. That means that thousands of ballots may be thrown out.

What’s a naked ballot? A ballot that isn’t mailed in its “secrecy envelope.” If you’ve ever voted by mail, you’ve probably wondered why there are so many freakin’ envelopes required.

“The purpose of it is another layer of protection and verification,” said York County Communications Director Mark Walters.

We think it’s a little bit of overkill, but if you want your vote to be counted, you have to play by the rules – and this year, the rules are different. In previous elections, naked ballots could be counted. No more.

Voting by mail shouldn’t be that hard to figure out, but if you’ve never done it before, it can be kind of confusing your first time.

That’s why Walters, along with Suzanne Almeida of Common Cause PA, are raising awareness about the proper way to vote. “You take your ballot and put it in the secrecy envelope, you seal that. You put that envelope in the outer envelope, you seal that, and then you sign the back,” Almeida said.

In addition to getting the envelopes right, there are a few other rules pertinent to voting in Pennsylvania: You have to be registered to vote by Oct. 19. You have to apply to get your mail-in ballot by Oct. 27 at 5 p.m. Your ballot must be postmarked or turned into your election office by 8 p.m. on Election Day, which is Nov. 3.

Someday, we hope voting will be simpler. Until then, make sure you’re following directions so your vote doesn’t get tossed out.

Cover Photo: Spiderstock (Getty Images)

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