Counties will also have discretion to implement the use of a hole punch in the return envelope to help county election workers identify when an inner secrecy envelope is missing, which will also be easier to identify with the new watermarking and yellow coloring on the inner envelope.
In the 2023 primary, counties rejected about 17,000 mail ballots, which is about 2.8% of the 597,000 mail-in and absentee ballots cast. Approximately 21,800 mail ballots were rejected in the 2020 general election, and approximately 23,700 mail ballots were rejected in the 2022 general election. Data on rejected ballots from recent elections demonstrate the critical need for these revisions.
The most common reasons for mail ballot rejection in the 2023 primary were receipt after Election Day (46.8% of all rejected ballots), lack of a date (20.3%), lack of a secrecy envelope (14.9%), incorrect date (8.4%), and lack of a signature (4.7%). The newly revised materials address these problems by providing clearer instructions on how to fill out and submit a mail ballot, which will decrease voter confusion and ensure fewer mail ballots are rejected in each election.
“Voting by mail is a safe, secure, and accessible way for Pennsylvanians to participate in the election process. We have worked with counties, vendors, and the Center for Civic Design to develop these new mail ballot materials to improve voters’ compliance with the instructions so their vote can be counted,” Schmidt said.
For more information on voting in Pennsylvania, including mail ballots, call the Department of State's year-round voter hotline at 1-877-VOTESPA, visit vote.pa.gov, or follow #ReadytoVotePA on social media.