HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – In the first two weeks of accepting applications, more than 20,000 Pennsylvania voters have applied online to sign up to use a mail-in or absentee ballot for the April 28 primary election.
Act 77, which was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf last year, will allow Pennsylvania voters to vote by mail without an excuse, for the first time ever.
Online applications were launched on February 11. The deadline for county election offices to receive applications is 5 p.m. on April 21.
While Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar expects more people to sign up to vote by mail, others are worried that large numbers of mail-in votes could delay vote counting on election night.
Under the new law, county officials are now allowed to open mail-in ballots until after polls close on election day. Some fear it could be days before all the votes are counted, and in a tight race, that could mean a delay in results.
Lawmakers are now looking to write legislation to allow those mail-in ballots to either be counted before the polls close, or to at least be canvassed, so officials can verify the ballots are being submitted by eligible voters and filled out properly.
“We recognize potential challenges facing county election offices and have plans to move a bill in the near future to address those concerns,” said Mike Straub, PA House Republican Caucus Spokesman. “We all share the goal of conducting fair, accurate and efficient elections in our Commonwealth.”
Act 77 also extends voter registration to up to 15 days before an election. The voter registration deadline for the April 28 primary is April 13.