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VERIFY: Yes, viral video showing ballot envelopes labeled with 'R' or 'D' for party is real, but here's important context

The Verify Team looked into an online video, claiming that ballot return envelopes are labeled with either 'R' or 'D', depending on party affiliation.

WASHINGTON — Question:

Is a viral video showing that ballot return envelopes labeled with an 'R' or a 'D' to indicate the voter's registered party legit? 


Yes. The Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections confirmed that these ballots are labeled in this way for the primary elections. During a General Election, these labels would not be there, and the ballot for a Democrat and Republican would be identical. This makes concerns about these labels leading to election fraud unlikely.


The Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections

The National Conference of State Legislatures, 'State Primary Election Types'


With the 2020 election less than 90 days away, there have been a lot of posts about the best way to vote. One viral video claims that voting-by-mail could lead to fraud, due to a label on the back of an envelope. 

"There are people who probably knew this," the woman said in the video. "But I just found this out today." 

The woman, identified as Tina Brown showed two ballots in the video, one belonging to her brother, a registered Democrat, and the other belonging to her, a registered Republican. Each were labeled with either an 'R' or a 'D.'

"They put 'R' right here," she said. "And 'D' right here so a postal person could see this if they're a Democrat and say 'oh, that's an R. Let's toss it. Let's just chuck it.'"

To find out if this video was legit, the Verify Team turned to the Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections, which confirmed on their website that the labeled envelopes were real. 

"Concerns have been raised by certain voters," the statement read. "That having the party on the envelope leads to a possibility of postal employees tampering with or not delivering mail of voters of a particular party." 

However, the video lacks important context. 

These labels are only present on the return envelopes for primaries in Palm Beach County. A spokesperson said that for a General Election, there would be no distinction between the ballot of a Democratic voter and a Republican voter. 

"There would be no way to tell the party affiliation of a voter based on their vote by mail ballot envelope," the spokesperson said.

The statement on the Supervisor of Elections website also points out that tampering would be a federal crime, and that they've so far not received any reports of this happening. 

This labeling policy can be found in areas outside of Palm Beach County. 

A spokesperson from the Virginia Department of Elections told the Verify Team that "the return envelope of an absentee ballot does indicate party affiliation of the primary for which the voter requested." 

This spokesperson confirmed that a General Election vote-by-mail ballot would not indicate party affiliation. 

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