NEWS | | 3 FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2020 THE TIMES HERALD A MAIL-IN VOTING Democrats in Pa. scramble to limit number of ‘naked ballots’ voter education things they can do.” He said the voters who are most likely to make the error are infrequent voters who may be hard to reach. “They’re probably not reading the Philadelphia Inquirer or the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but maybe they see the digital ad in their Facebook feed,” Grayson said. Andrew McCutchen, the Philadelphia Phillies star outfielder, was on a Zoom call Thursday filming a nonpartisan public service announcement about how to correctly fill out a mail-in ballot, with an emphasis on secrecy envelopes. In it, McCutchen is surrounded by cardboard cutouts of people to mimic the cardboard cutouts of fans in baseball stands this year. He says: “Then comes my favorite part, the secrecy envelope. That’s the envelope you put your ballot in . ... Then you put that secrecy envelope Trump won Pennsylvania by a mere 44,000 votes in 2016, and polls show a close race between Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. A 30-second digital ad released Thursday walks voters through the process of correctly filling out and returning a Pennsylvania absentee ballot. The June primary was the first election with widespread mail voting in the state and most voters have little experience with the method. “Remember, you must place the ballot in the secrecy envelope first for your vote to count,” the ad’s male narrator says. After walking voters through a four-step process, he closes by saying: “That’s all there is.” The ad is aimed at voters who have already requested a mail-in ballot. “With vote-by-mail requests surging, it’s important that every voter using a mail ballot for the first time has all the information they need so that their ballot will be counted, including the importance of sealing their ballot in the secrecy envelope,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said in a statement. Counties are just starting to send out mail-in and absentee ballots to voters. On Thursday, Pennsylvania’s second-most populous county, Allegheny County, which is home to Pittsburgh, said it has begun to send out ballot packets, delivering approximately 70,000 ballots over the last 24 hours to the post office for mailing. Former Kentucky Secretary of State Trey Grayson said naked ballots are just one of the ways people can “mess up” their absentee or mail-in ballot. “They’re especially tough in environments where you abruptly shift to vote by mail,” Grayson said. “The campaigns can play a great role here. There are some By Nicholas Riccardi and Marc Levy The Associated Press Democrats are launching a digital ad targeting Pennsylvanians voting by mail to explain how to correctly fill out and return the ballots, hoping to avert worried predictions that 100,000 votes or more could be invalidated because the ballots aren’t put in the proper envelope. The so-called naked ballots have become a huge concern for Democrats in the state since the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled last week that ballots had to be rejected if not enclosed in the proper secrecy envelope. The ruling was a victory for President Donald Trump’s campaign in the battleground state. Democrats so far have been far more likely than Republicans to request mailin ballots in Pennsylvania and the rest of the country. HARRISBURG » GENE J. PUSKAR, FILE - THE ASSOCIATED PRESS This May 26 file photo shows an Official Democratic General Primary mail-in ballot and secrecy envelope, for the Pennsylvania primary in Pittsburgh. Democrats are launching a digital ad targeting Pennsylvanians voting by mail to explain how to correctly fill out and return the ballots, hoping to avert worried predictions that 100,000 votes or more could be invalidated because the ballots aren’t put in the proper envelope. inside the big envelope.” The hope is that the PSA is available beginning in October through news organization websites, the Philadelphia Phillies, Major League Baseball and others, said John Fuller, McCutchen’s publicist. It is to include cameos by other well-known Pennsylvanians, Fuller said. The Democratic Party said it and the Biden campaign will also engage in additional outreach, including videos of various political leaders correctly filling out a mail-in ballot, to combat the problem. Philadelphia’s top elections official, a Democrat, this week warned of “electoral chaos” in Pennsylvania if the state’s Republicancontrolled Legislature does not clarify state law to allow counties to count mailin ballots returned without secrecy envelopes. Riccardi reported from Denver. MATT ROURKE, FILE - THE ASSOCIATED PRESS In this May 6 photo, United States Postal Service carrier Henrietta Dixon gets into her truck to deliver mail in Philadelphia. MAIL-IN VOTING US high court next up in Pa.’s mail-in ballot fight pandemic to invoke the power, used previously by the state’s courts, to extend election deadlines during a disaster emergency. Ballots can be counted if they lack a postmark, a legible postmark or some proof of mailing, unless a “preponderance of the evidence” shows it was mailed after Election Day, the court said. Republicans opposed changing the deadline, as well as counting ballots without legible postmarks to prove that they were mailed before polls close. They say the ruling violates federal law setting Election Day as the first Tuesday in November and exceeded the court’s constitutional authority. Democratic majority, rejected the request without comment, clearing Republicans to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to block the ruling. The divided court last week granted the Democratic Party’s request to order an extension of Pennsylvania’s Election Day deadline to count mailed-in ballots. The court said ballots must be postmarked by the time polls close and be received by county election boards at 5 p.m. on Nov. 6, three days after the Nov. 3 election. It cited warnings of the prospect of postal service delays in invalidating huge numbers of ballots and demand for mail-in ballots during the coronavirus The Associated Press Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court on Thursday rejected Republican requests to put on hold its decision to extend the deadline to receive and count mail-in ballots in November’s election. The court, which has a 5-2 HARRISBURG » FILE PHOTO Medical professionals say getting a flu shot is more important than normal this year because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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