Does the PA Supreme Court ruling disenfranchise some voters on a trivial technicality? [closed]

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The Politicus
Sep 28, 2020 03:40 AM 0 Answers
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According to NBCnews et al, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that ballots that are returned (by mail) without the "secrecy envelope" are to be rejected.

Public officials (for example: Scribed have estimated that tens of thousands of PA ballots may be rejected for this reason. [IMO, the number of rejections is not the utmost concern, rather that ballots would be rejected for a trivial irregularity unrelated to timeliness or voter authenticity]

As I understand it (feel free to correct) the PA mail-in ballot consists of:

  1. An outer, preaddressed, mailing envelope provided by the election board that (on the reverse side) the voter is to complete and sign an affivadit or declaration of the voter's name, address, or whatever other information asserts that the voter and this ballot are fully qualified to vote.
  2. A plain, smaller preprinted sealable envelope with the words" Official Election Ballot". [As far as I can tell there are no other markings on this envelope.] This envelope is the referred to as the "secrecy envelope."
  3. An official Pennsylvania Ballot.

The instructions to the voter seem to be:

a) Complete the ballot

b) Place the ballot in the "Official Ballot Envelope"

c) Seal the "Official Ballot Envelope"

d) Place the sealed "official Ballot Envelope" into the return (aka mailing) envelope (preprinted with the Board of Elections address)

e) seal the return envelope

f) complete the affidavit or declaration (on the reverse side of the return/mailing envelope) with whatever information is required and sign the declaration

g) Place the return/mailing envelope in the USPS mail or deposit at other designated location.

It seems to me that if the voter wants to protect the privacy of his ballot choices, using the "secrecy envelope" might ensure that. On the other hand, if a voter cares not if someone at the election board can associate his name with a specific ballot, the "secrecy envelope" is unnecessary. Futhermore, if the voter chooses not to hide his ballot from other's eyes, that voter should not be punished by invalidating his ballot.

{Since this is a federal election, I would not be at all surprised if disenfranchised voters (for the above reason) would challenge the PA Supreme Court's decision to the Federal Courts.)

Is there some nuance that I am missing that would legitimize the rejection of these "naked" ballots?

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  • September 28, 2020