To fight against so-called “naked” ballots, the Bucks County Board of Elections has opted to use new envelopes to make sure all voters have their voices heard.
The postage-paid return envelopes now have a tiny hole punched through the bottom corner, and new, yellow inner secrecy envelopes are also included.
Staff will now see a white dot through the small hole indicating the yellow envelope is missing if a ballot is returned to the Bucks County Board of Elections “naked,” which means it is not enclosed in the secrecy envelope, as required.
The easier way for election workers to spot naked ballots will allow a voter to be alerted and correct the issue, county election officials said in a Tuesday statement.
From the county press release: “State law prohibits the counting of ‘naked’ ballots, and also bars the opening of mail-in and absentee ballot envelopes before 7 a.m. on Election Day. As a result, ‘naked’ ballots typically have gone unnoticed until it’s too late to remedy.”
“The law has required the County to reject hundreds of ‘naked’ ballots each election since the expansion of mail-in voting in Pennsylvania. With 225 tossed in the primary and another 492 in the general, ‘naked’ ballots accounted for the largest number by far of otherwise properly received ballots that were rejected last year in Bucks County.”
In past years, elections staff issued postcards to voters whose ballots arrived without a signature on the return envelope. The staff plans to do the same to voters whose ballots arrive without a yellow envelope that can be seen through the outer envelope’s hole, elections officials said.
The Bucks County Board of Elections offers voters the opportunity to stop by the elections office in Doylestown Borough until 8 p.m. on Election Day to remedy a ballot issue.
Mail-in ballots for the 2023 May primary election are expected to begin arriving in mailboxes in the coming weeks. Dropbox locations will be announced in the coming weeks.