What’s a Naked Ballot?

Mail-in ballots accompanied by small text that says "EXPLAINER" and large text that says “Naked Ballots"

If you’re a Pennsylvania voter, you’ve likely been hearing a lot about “naked ballots.” 

So what are they?

Naked ballots are essentially completed ballots that have been placed directly into a return envelope and are missing a secrecy envelope.

Why are people talking about them?

“Naked ballots” have garnered quite a bit of attention because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently declared that ballots returned without a secrecy envelope are invalid, and therefore counties will reject them.

Here’s what you should look out for upon receiving your mail-in or absentee ballot package.

  • You’ll likely receive an instructional pamphlet, which you should read closely;
  • You’ll see the actual ballot where you will vote on candidates and ballot questions;
  • You’ll have a white secrecy envelope, which may have the words “Official Election Ballot” printed on it and
  • You’ll have a larger, pre-addressed outer return envelope that requires you to read, complete, sign and date a voter declaration.

How do I make sure my ballot isn’t “naked”?

You must complete your ballot and insert it into the smaller, white secrecy envelope. This is what Pennsylvania considers to be the “clothes” for your ballot. Then you place this “clothed” ballot into the pre-addressed outer envelope. If you do not place your ballot into that smaller, white envelope, the state will consider your ballot “naked” and it will be rejected.

Once you’ve placed your clothed ballot into the larger return envelope, you’ll read, complete, sign and date the declaration, and then you’re ready to go! Simply drop in the mail or bring to a post office as soon as possible, or hand deliver to your local election board’s designated drop-off location before 8:00 p.m. on Nov. 3. Visit votespa.com to see a list of ballot return locations.

Please remember to “clothe” your ballot and vote early!