Chester County changes color of mail and absentee ballot envelopes to clarify process

Mail and absentee voting material will now be color-coded. Instead of all-white envelopes, Chester County voters can expect a splash of color.

Mail ballots of different colors

In Chester County, residents who vote by mail will use an orange secrecy envelope. The return declaration envelope will have an orange stripe. (Chester County Voter Services)

Got a question about life in Philly’s suburbs? Our suburban reporters want to hear from you! Ask us a question or send an idea for a story you think we should cover.

In advance of the Pennsylvania primary election, Chester County’s Department of Voter Services is making a change to mail and absentee ballot envelopes.

The mail ballot secrecy envelope will be a solid orange and the return declaration envelope will have an orange stripe.

“To actually navigate these voters through the process of accurately casting your votes through mail-in ballots and which envelopes to use and how to navigate through all the materials we sense, things are color coded, the instructions are in color. So it really guides people through the process to make sure that everything is spelled out accurately and in its entirety and the correct envelopes are being utilized,” said Karen Barsoum, the county Director of Voter Services.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

The county has produced a video with step-by-step instructions on how to properly complete and return a mail ballot.

After filling out a mail ballot, Chester County voters should place it inside the orange secrecy envelope marked Official Election Ballot. Barsoum said the envelopes must be sealed and should not have any stray markings.

Once the orange envelope is sealed, it should be placed inside of the declaration envelope with the orange stripe. Barsoum emphasized that voters must sign and date the back of the declaration envelope and seal it.

“That is the biggest mitigation we are trying to accomplish — that people are actually utilizing the secrecy [envelope], sealing the secrecy envelope, and are not making any markings or any notes on the envelope itself. And for the last election, that could have potentially mitigated around 500 voters for their vote to be counted,” Barsoum said.

Barsoum said voters can either return their completed ballots by mail or in person at the County Board of Elections or at one of the 13 drop-box locations scattered across the county. Hours of operation can be found online.

  • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

The deadline to apply for a mail or absentee ballot is May 9.

Important Dates

WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal