PA makes changes to mail-in ballots to help voters

Secretary of State Al Schmidt testifying in front of the Pennsylvania Senate's State Government Committee on May 24, 2023. (Photo: Sean Kitchen)

By Sean Kitchen

November 29, 2023

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Al Schmidt announced on Wednesday that design changes to make voting by mail easier are coming in time for the 2024 primary election.

Pennsylvania is making big changes to their mail-in ballots so the commonwealth can reduce minor errors by voters in order to prevent their ballots from being thrown out by varying county governments. 

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Department of State announced on Wednesday that they are rolling out new envelope language and format for the 2024 primary. 

“Now with six elections behind us with mail voting, it’s become clear that there are some technical mistakes that voters sometimes make when completing mail-in ballots, and we want to do what we can to mitigate the opportunities for that to occur,” Pennsylvania Secretary of State Al Schmidt said in an interview with the Inquirer. 

The new ballot envelopes will include: 

  • Simpler language
  • Shading for where a person must sign and date the envelope
  • Include a prompt for voters to write in the date with a pre-filled “20” at the start of the year.

The report goes on to state that counties will be encouraged to change the color of the secrecy envelope so voters don’t forget to place their ballot in the secrecy envelope and have it tossed due to forgetting the envelope. 

Counties in Pennsylvania are responsible for operating their own elections and these proposed changes will help voters in counties that refuse to allow voters to correct simple mistakes. 

Adam Bonin, a prominent Philadelphia election lawyer, previously told The Keystone that most of these simple mistakes are made by elderly voters.

“Voters shouldn’t be disenfranchised for trivial paperwork errors, especially when elections officials notice them in time for the voters to fix them. And most voters who are affected by this are elderly voters, not careless ones.” Bonin, who is an election lawyer based in Philadelphia, said in a statement to The Keystone.

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CATEGORIES: VOTING

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