Jonathan Lai for the Inquirer:
The state Supreme Court in Pennsylvania, a critical battleground state that’s seen as increasingly likely to determine who wins the White House, last week ordered officials to throw out what’s known as “naked ballots” — mail ballots that arrive without inner “secrecy envelopes.” Pennsylvania uses a two-envelope mail ballot system: A completed ballot goes into a “secrecy envelope” that has no identifying information, and then into a larger mailing envelope that the voter signs. “Naked ballots” are those sent without the inner envelope.
It’s unclear how many naked ballots there will be, because this is the first year any Pennsylvania voter can vote by mail, and most counties counted them in the June primary without tracking how many there were.
But Philadelphia’s top elections official warned Monday that the court’s ruling “is going to cause electoral chaos,” lead to tens of thousands of votes being thrown out, and put the state at the center of “significant post-election legal controversy, the likes of which we have not seen since Florida in 2000.”
The decision ordering them thrown out was part of a trio of rulings Thursday which, among other things, extended the deadline for voters to send mail ballots back, permitted the use of drop boxes for voters to return them, and removed the Green Party’s presidential ticket from the Nov. 3 ballot.
Taken together, those rulings were seen as likely to give Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s campaign a boost, since Democrats are expected to vote by mail in far greater number than Republicans this year.
But throwing out naked ballots could be costly for Biden, in a state President Donald Trump won by by only about 44,000 votes in 2016, or less than 1 percent.
“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,” Lisa Deeley, chair of the Philadelphia city commissioners, wrote in a letter to state legislative leaders urging them to change the law to allow the ballots to be counted.
Deeley warned there will likely be tens of thousands thrown out — maybe more than 100,000.