Democrats launch ad informing Pennsylvania voters on ‘naked ballots’
The Democratic National Committee (DNC) is launching a new digital ad in Pennsylvania walking voters through the vote-by-mail process amid concerns that a recent court ruling could result in thousands of so-called naked ballots being tossed out.
The 30-second digital spot is part of a joint voter education campaign with Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign in Pennsylvania, the state Democratic Party and other groups. It instructs Pennsylvanians voting by mail to fill out a ballot and seal it inside a smaller secrecy envelope before enclosing it in a larger return envelope.
“Remember, you must place the ballot in the secrecy envelope first for your vote to count,” a narrator says in the ad.
The ad comes a week after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court sided with the Trump campaign in a lawsuit seeking to have naked ballots — mail ballots returned without being sealed in an inner secrecy envelope — invalidated.
It’s unclear how many naked ballots will be returned to election officials in this year’s general election. This is the first year in which all Pennsylvania voters will be allowed to vote by mail, and most counties did not keep track of such ballots during the state’s primary elections in June.
But some officials and voting rights advocates have expressed concern that the court decision could lead to tens of thousands of ballots being thrown out on a technicality.
In a letter to Republican leaders in the state legislature on Monday, Lisa Deeley, the chair of the Philadelphia City Commissioners, estimated that between 30,000 and 40,000 ballots in Philadelphia alone could be thrown out as a result of the court ruling. Statewide, that number could exceed 100,000, she warned.
If Deeley’s estimates are correct, that could have massive implications for the presidential election. President Trump won Pennsylvania in 2016 by only about 44,000 votes, and Democrats see the state as a critical part of their path to the White House in November.
More Democrats than Republicans are expected to vote by mail this year. That has raised concerns among some that ballots cast by Democratic voters could be invalidated at a higher rate than those cast by Republican voters.
“With vote-by-mail requests surging, it’s important that every voter using a mail ballot for the first time has all the information they need so that their ballot will be counted, including the importance of sealing their ballot in the secrecy envelope, which then goes in the larger return envelope, and signing the back of the return envelope before putting it in the mail or delivering it in person to their county elections office,” DNC Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement.
“Voting begins well before Election Day, and we’re confident that our voter education program will lead the way and make sure every Pennsylvanian’s voice is heard.”