Pennsylvania is on track to receive 3 million absentee and/or mail in ballots for the upcoming Nov. 3 General Election Sect. of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar said today.
She addressed journalists through a SpotlightPA* virtual briefing. As Secretary, she leads the Pennsylvania Department of State which is responsible for election administration.
Getting ballots submitted properly so they are counted is a goal of the Sero Project, founded by Milford Mayor Sean Strub. That’s why preceding the upcoming Nov. 3 election, Strub is focusing the project’s energy on voter education in a nationwide effort that includes Pennsylvania.
“Sero Project has decided to pause nearly all of our organizational, educational and advocacy initiatives in order to enable our entire staff to focus on voter registration and turnout for Nov. 3.” Sero is a network of people with HIV and allies fighting for freedom from stigma and injustice, particularly focused on ending inappropriate criminal prosecutions of people with HIV for non-disclosure of their HIV status, potential or perceived HIV exposure or HIV transmission.
“Over the next five weeks, our communities face an epic battle, perhaps the most important of our lives, one that for many of us is a matter of life or death. That battle is to make sure people living with HIV, BIPOC, people who live in poverty, young people and everyone concerned about justice turns out to vote on Nov. 3 and that their votes are counted,” Strub said.
There is nothing more important right now, Strub said.
“People living with HIV, especially, have so much to lose. The healthcare, social safety net, financial and issues at stake are unprecedented. We are at a critical point in the history of the American democratic experiment and this election is the inflection point,” Strub said. Consequently, Sero staff will be working with others to make sure everyone understands their local ballot, knows when, how and where to vote and where to get help when questions or problems arise.
What’s it take?
This requires hundreds of thousands of peer-to-peer conversations, phone banking, texting and other communications, because each state has its own procedures for voting by mail, absentee voting, schedules for registration and voting.
“A concept as simple as ‘one person one vote’ in 2020 has many complications and nuances. That’s in part because there are powerful interests do not want us to vote. They are afraid of our votes and will go to extraordinary lengths to suppress the vote and disqualify our ballots,” Strub said. “We don’t want to wake up on November 4 regretting the calls we did not make, the texts we did not send the organizing we failed to pursue. A democracy can’t survive if its citizens don’t fight to keep it and Sero is committed to that right.”
Naked Ballots & PA Voters
Instructions here from the Democracy Docket –
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.
To better understand the issue and ensure that your ballot is counted, let’s talk about what you’re receiving in 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 November 3. Visit votespa.com to see a list of ballot return locations.
*Spotlight PA is dedicated to producing non¬partisan investigative journalism about Pennsylvania government and urgent statewide issues. We are an independent watchdog unafraid to dig deep, fight for the truth and take on the powerful to expose wrongdoing and spur meaningful reform. We connect Pennsylvanians to their state, and to each other, through public service journalism that matters to their lives and is creatively told in the many modern, digital ways they consume their news.