Welcome to the Capital-Star’s election mailbag: a weekly round-up of voting questions, crowdsourced from you — our readers.
Here’s this week’s question and answer:
You asked: Article VII Section 4 of the PA constitution requires that secrecy in voting be preserved. How is this done with mail-in ballots? For example, what prevents an overbearing spouse from being able to see and dictate to their partner who to vote for?
A: A spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of State did not address the specific example cited in this question but reminded voters about the importance of the secrecy envelope when it comes to protecting voter privacy.
“Pennsylvania law requires that mail-in and absentee voters mark their ballot in secret and then place it in a secrecy envelope, which is then placed in an outer envelope to be sent to the appropriate county board of elections,” spokesperson Amy Gulli said.
Secrecy envelopes have been a point of contention since no-excuse mail-in ballots were first accepted in 2020, due to concerns over whether a ballot that was not properly placed in its secrecy envelope could be counted.
The prevalence of ballots without a secrecy envelope — known as “naked ballots” — resulted in a ruling from the state Supreme Court in 2020, barring ballots without a secrecy envelope from being counted by election officials.
Voters can find more information on voting by mail and using the secrecy envelope here.
Then, check back here each week for the answers.
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