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Pennsylvania Election Official: Mail Ballot Rules Could Cause “Chaos,” Disenfranchise 100K Voters

Pennsylvania Election Official: Mail Ballot Rules Could Cause “Chaos,” Disenfranchise 100K Voters

A Pennsylvania election official warned that the state’s mail ballot secrecy rules may result in tens of thousands of voters being disenfranchised across the state.

Philadelphia City Commissioner Lisa Deeley said in a letter to state House Speaker Bryan Cutler and Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati that the legislature risks “chaos” if they don’t eliminate a rule requiring the rejection of “naked ballots,” which are sent in without a second inner “secrecy envelope.”

This would "set Pennsylvania up to be the subject of significant post-election legal controversy, the likes of which we have not seen since Florida in 2000,” she warned.

Her letter came after the state Supreme Court sided with Pennsylvania Democrats to extend mail ballot deadlines but upheld the naked ballot rule.

"While everyone is talking about the significance of extending the mail ballot deadline, it is the naked ballot ruling that is going to cause electoral chaos," Deeley said.

100,000 could be disenfranchised:

Deeley noted that more than 6% of ballots were rejected in past elections but that number could be higher since so many people are voting by mail for the first time.

Based on the past rate of rejection, Deeley projected that 30,000-40,000 votes may be thrown out in Philadelphia and over 100,000 statewide.

These are "votes that will not be counted, all because of a minor technicality,” she wrote. "When you consider that the 2016 election in Pennsylvania was decided by just over 44,000 votes, you can see why I am concerned.”

16 states have secrecy sleeves:

Sixteen states have secrecy sleeve requirements for mail ballots.

Deeley argued that these are a “vestige of the past” because they were intended to protect voter privacy when mail ballots were counted in polling places.

Now, there are central locations with fast machines that process between 12,000 and 24,000 ballots per hour.

"At these speeds, there is no opportunity to stop, or even slow down, and identify how an individual voted," Deeley said. "The secrecy envelope exists now only as a means to disenfranchise well intentioned Pennsylvania voters."