For accuracy, voters must mark their absentee or mail-in ballot according to the instructions provided on the ballot.By Royce Jones

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Election officials are sounding the alarm about a possible problem with absentee and mail-in ballots.

According to a Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling, dropping off your ballot without using the inner secrecy envelope makes them invalid.

In a recent letter to the court, Philadelphia Councilperson Lisa Deeley warned this could cost tens of thousands of votes during the general election. KDKA spoke with Lawrence County voting services director Ed Allison, who said voter education is paramount.

“It’s up to every state, and every county within that state, to carry out an election in the most effective, efficient and fair means as possible,” Allison said.

For accuracy, voters must mark their absentee or mail-in ballot according to the instructions provided on the ballot, according to the Department of State. Before signing the outside of the official envelope and returning your ballot, Allison said do not forget to “place it inside the secrecy envelope that is provided.”

According to Pennsylvania elections code, this is a must.

“Any ballot found not to be inside a secrecy envelope will be placed back in the envelope in which it was delivered and will not be counted,” said Allison.

So-called “naked ballots” will be held at county elections headquarters for two years before being destroyed. Allison said this already happened this year, at least in his county, during the primary.

“I still have in safekeeping the number of ballots that the county rejected because they were not in a secrecy envelope,” said Allison.

With Pennsylvania being a key battleground state, election officials fear not counting these ballots could very likely impact the outcome of the election and are asking the court to eliminate the secrecy envelope.

Upcoming deadlines for Pennsylvania voters can be found here.