VOPP: Table 13: States that are Required to Provide Secrecy Sleeves for Absentee/Mail Ballots

5/5/2020

This table is part of NCSL’s Voting Outside the Polling Place report.

Many states have statutory requirements detailing what election officials must include in the mailings that go out to voters who have requested absentee ballots or who will receive mail ballots automatically. Sixteen states require that absentee voters be provided with a secrecy sleeve. A secrecy sleeve—sometimes known as a privacy sleeve, inner envelope or identification envelope—is a paper document intended to protect voters’ privacy by separating their identity and signature from their ballot. After completing a mail or absentee ballot, a voter places it inside the secrecy sleeve, which then goes inside the return envelope.

Other states or jurisdictions may choose to use secrecy sleeves. In Maryland, for example, local election boards can choose whether to include them (MD Code, Election Law, § 9-310), and Colorado’s ballot mailings include an instruction sheet that can double as a secrecy sleeve if the voter so chooses.

The additional paper can increase the cost of ballot mailings, however. And secrecy sleeves are unnecessary if the election jurisdiction has a different process to ensure a voter’s privacy when ballots are opened.

The states in the table below are those that require providing a secrecy sleeve to absentee voters.

State Statute

Alaska

AS § 15.20.030

Florida

West's F.S.A. § 101.64

Georgia

Ga. Code Ann., § 21-2-384

Hawaii

HRS § 15-6

Kentucky

KRS § 117.085

Minnesota

M.S.A. § 203B.07

New Hampshire

N.H. Rev. Stat. § 657:7

New Jersey

N.J.S.A. 19:63-12

New York

ELN § 7-122

North Dakota

NDCC, 16.1-07-08

Ohio

R.C. § 3509.04

Pennsylvania

25 P.S. § 3146.4

Texas

V.T.C.A., Election Code § 86.012, § 86.013

Virginia

VA Code Ann. § 24.2-706

Washington

West's RCWA 29A.40.091

West Virginia

W. Va. Code, § 3-3-12