First “naked ballots” found as mail-in voting counts begin in Lehigh County

Written by on November 3, 2020

First “naked ballots” found as mail-in voting counts begin in Lehigh County

By Tyler Pratt

November 3, 2020

Please be patient: We most likely won’t know the results of the Nov. 3 election in Pa. and across the country for several days. Find out more about how WLVR News will cover election night and after.

Lehigh County Chief Clerk Tim Benyo reads off a stack of “naked” ballots to poll watchers, meaning they were sent in without the extra “secrecy envelope.” Watchers can’t touch them but will log and then try to reach the voter by 8 p.m. to come cast their ballot again. Photo
Tyler Pratt / WLVR
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Mail-in ballot counting kicked off in Lehigh County this morning just before 9 a.m. WLVR’s Tyler Pratt was there along with poll watchers as the first ballots were opened and the first “naked ballots” were found.

Tim Benyo is the county’s top election official.

“The envelope comes to this section, the ballots will be pulled out of the return envelope, any naked ballots will be separated, and then the secrecy envelopes will be taken to that envelope opener,” he said.

The machines whir and slice through envelopes, then workers have to open more by hand. Not long into the operation, some ballots were discovered to be naked, meaning without the extra envelope that’s required.

“It’s silly that a law like that will discount those votes. That’s not what we want to see,” Benyo said.

About an hour in, roughly 20 naked ballots were logged. Benyo reads off the numbers on the ballots to poll watchers like Stephen Zakos, with the county’s Democratic Party, who can reach out to the voters.

“If they are generally supportive of our candidates then we’re going to provide whatever resources are necessary for them to be able to come into the polling place where they would vote in person,” said Benyo. 

Lehigh County has at least 68,000 ballots to work through, with 20,000 more expected to come in through the end of the week. 

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