Voting by mail? Make sure your ballot’s not ‘naked!’


The November election is quickly approaching, and I want to make sure that everyone’s vote counts.

Some people are concerned about the “naked envelope” question: If mail ballots are not enclosed in the ballot “secrecy” envelope before they are placed in the outer mailing envelope, will they be counted? The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that these “naked” ballots – those that are not placed in the inner “secrecy” envelope – won’t be counted. Voters must place their voted mail ballot in the secrecy envelope before placing it in the outer envelope and mailing it or dropping it off.

Secondly, and this is just as important, if a voter checked off the box to be sent a mail-in or absentee ballot, but then decides to vote in person – they must bring their absentee or mail ballot and the envelope to the polling place when they vote in person, otherwise they must fill out a provisional ballot.

In the Pennsylvania primary in June, thousands of voters who used mail-in ballots did not have their votes counted, but state and local election officials are working to avoid having that happen again in the general election. 

Voters have until October 27 to apply for a mail-in ballot. Counties are expected to begin this week sending mail-in ballots to voters who requested them. The state Supreme Court recently ruled that election officials should count ballots that are received as late as November 6 if they are postmarked by November 3, as well as ballots that arrive with missing or illegible postmarks.

Allegheny County has started to send out mail-in ballots to voters who requested them, so please, check your mailbox!

The Department of State has vowed to increase its voter education campaign regarding mail-in voting procedures. The outreach will include direct postal mailers to voters, social media, the department’s website, and various forms of advertising.

You may apply for a mail-in ballot, check your registration status, or update your address at

If you apply to vote by mail, you will receive your ballot in the mail. Mark your ballot, place your ballot in the secrecy envelope, then place the secrecy envelope into the mailing envelope. Be sure to sign your ballot. Return your ballot as soon as it’s completed to ensure it arrives at the county election office before the deadline.

If you need assistance with understanding the voting process, contact my office.

Thank you and be well!

Adam Ravenstahl

State Rep. Adam Ravenstahl represents the 20th Legislative District in Allegheny County

Related posts:

District 20 News from Rep. Adam Ravenstahl: September 2020

District 20 News from Rep. Adam Ravenstahl: August 2020

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