New for the 2023 primary, changes to mail-in and absentee ballot envelopes will make it easier for Bucks County voters and Board of Elections staff to spot “naked” ballots before Election Day.
The changes include a small hole punched through the bottom corner of the postage-paid return envelopes, and new inner secrecy envelopes that are yellow in color.
Now if a ballot is returned to the Board of Elections “naked,” meaning it is not enclosed in a secrecy envelope, staff will see a white dot indicating the yellow envelope is missing. The voter can then be notified and given time to fix the issue.
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 previous cycles, the Board of Elections Office has mailed postcards to voters whose ballots arrived before Election Day without a signature on the return envelope, and plans to do the same for ballots that arrive without a yellow envelope visible through the hole in the outer envelope.
Voters may come to the main Board of Elections Office in Doylestown Borough until 8 p.m. on Election Day to remedy a ballot issue.
Mail-in and absentee ballots for the 2023 municipal primary election are expected to start arriving in county residents’ mailboxes in the next few weeks.
Voters are encouraged to fill out and return ballots as soon as possible by placing their voted ballot that has been sealed in both the secrecy and return envelopes into the mail, or dropping it off at an official County Ballot Box. Ballot box locations will be announced in the coming weeks.
Return postage for mail-in and absentee ballots this year is paid for by the County, as approved in a unanimous vote earlier this year by the County Commissioners.
Media Contact: James O’Malley, 215-348-6414, [email protected]