People have been voting by mail in the U.S. for close to a hundred years, but it's never been as big an issue as it is in the 2020 election. This is the start of a five-part animation series by The Associated Press, Election 2020 Facts (Sept. 21) AP Domestic


A recent court ruling could force Pennsylvania to ignore more than 100,000 mail-in ballots in the hotly contested presidential race.

In a letter to legislative leaders, Lisa Deeley, the chairwoman of the Philadelphia City Commissioners, told legislative leaders that the state Supreme Court’s decision would prohibit counties from counting so-called “naked ballots,” or those that do not arrive in a secrecy envelope, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Monday.

Those naked ballots were counted in Pennsylvania’s June 2 primary, but President Donald Trump's campaign and other Republicans sued to have them not counted this fall.

Last week, the state Supreme Court also granted a request from the Pennsylvania Democratic Party to allow mail-in ballots to be counted if they are received by the Friday after the election and drop-off boxes to collect mail-in ballots.

Deeley warned that the decision concerning naked ballots could disenfranchise more than 100,000 voters based on previous election results. She compared the potential outcome this November to the infamous 2000 presidential election in Florida that was eventually settled by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“This is not a partisan issue,” Deeley wrote. “We are talking about the voting rights of our constituents, whether they be Democrats, Republicans, or independents, whose ballots will be needlessly set aside.”

More: What do Pa. voters want? Some say Biden, some say Trump, some want a better choice

Voter Protection Corps chairman Quentin Palfrey released a statement in which he called for the state Legislature to take “immediate action” to allow naked ballots to be counted.

“Even if the legislature won’t act to allow these so-called ‘naked’ ballots, it should immediately provide greater flexibility to process mail ballots as soon as each ballot is received from the voter,” Palfrey said, “and allow every eligible voter whose ballot might need to be rejected an opportunity to fix any problems that occur.”

He also called on the state and counties to “double down” on nonpartisan voter education and adding poll workers.

More: Advocates: PA mail-in ballots not accessible for disabled voters

Trump won Pennsylvania by just 44,000 votes in 2016.

Since the Inquirer’s story, the issue has exploded in the media, and on social media and political talk shows.

MSNBC’s Chris Hayes did a segment in which he explained the issue and how ballots are placed in the secrecy envelope, which is then placed in an outer envelope before being mailed or dropped off.

“It is, however, a bit complicated,” Hayes said. “I actually froze when I was filling out my absentee ballot in New York over this.”

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