Are “Naked Ballots” valid in North Dakota?

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There still may be weeks to go until election day, but it was hard to ignore the steady stream of voters dropping off their absentee ballots Monday morning at the City/County Building in Bismarck.

But are those ballots valid?

Last week the Pennsylvania Supreme Court made national news by announcing all naked ballots submitted would be thrown out.

And if you don’t know what a naked ballot is — and yes, that’s its official term — we’ll let Burleigh County Election Manager Erika White fill you in.

“A naked ballot is a ballot that comes in, an absentee ballot, so, here’s the envelope that the ballot needs to be returned in, and then also in that package is a secrecy sleeve, so a naked ballot would be the secrecy sleeve is missing,” said White.

Secrecy sleeves are different everywhere. In Burleigh County, as you saw, it’s an unmarked white sleeve. In Morton County, it’s a folded in half sheet of paper marked “Secrecy Sleeve”.

But rest assured North Dakota voters, there’s good news for you.

“There’s nothing in law that states we need that coming back, and we see ballots all the time where we just have the ballot inside of this envelope, and that’s fine, we accept that. It’s really up to the voter if they want to use the secrecy sleeve,” said White.

Now a naked ballot is the only mistake people are making as election day draws near, officials KX News spoke with in both Burleigh and Morton County tell us they’ve seen and heard a whole host of mistakes and confusion — all that could put their vote in jeopardy, come November.

Across the Missouri in Morton County, Auditor Dawn Rhone says they’ve been flooded with calls from people confused after getting a ballot in the mail because they forgot they requested one before the primary.

“There’s a number of voters who received a ballot and they’re calling and saying, ‘I didn’t request a ballot, why did I get one?’ Well, it’s because they requested that ballot on that application they filled out probably back in May,” said Rhone.

“We don’t send ballots to people who don’t request them every ballot that was sent has a matching application with that voter requesting that ballot,” said White.

Both ladies add if you’re sending in an absentee ballot, make sure you sign the return envelope and include your phone number to make it easier for election officials to contact you if there’s a problem.

It will also help to make election season smoother for us all.

In-person early voting in Burleigh and Morton Counties goes underway on Oct. 21.

In Burleigh County, you can vote at the Bismarck Events Center.

Voters in Morton County can cast their ballot at the Disciples Church on the strip in Mandan.

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