HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — As of Monday, nearly one million voters have applied for a mail-in ballot for the primary election, Gov. Tom Wolf and State Secretary Kathy Boockvar announced in an update regarding election prep.
“We are in an unprecedented time and are facing a major public health crisis in a presidential election year,” Wolf said. “I want Pennsylvanians to know that they have options for how to cast their ballots, including both voting by mail and voting in person. Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy, and Pennsylvanians can still cast their ballots while keeping themselves safe and healthy.”
Several election changes were made last year after Wolf signed into law election revisions that anticipated making voting easier. The law created the option of mail-in ballots, in addition to later deadlines for voter registration and returning mail-in and absentee ballots.
“Our priority is to ensure the integrity of our elections while also keeping Pennsylvania voters safe,” Boockvar said. “Voting by mail-in ballot is a secure way to vote from the comfort of your own home and to make sure that your voice is heard on election day.”
The Department of State has seen a significant increase in mail ballot application requests since the onset of Covid-19 began in Pennsylvania. 948,831 applications have already been submitted for mail-in and absentee ballots.
One specific change allows counties to temporarily consolidate polling places more easily. The Department of State is working with counties to develop consolidation plans toward creating secure and safe processes.
Registered voters have until 5:00 p.m., May 26 to apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot and until 8:00 p.m. on election day to return voted ballots.
Voters who applied for a ballot before the election date change do not need to apply again, but those whose addresses have changed should contact their county election office.
To assist counties during this process, the Wolf Administration is providing federal funding from the CARES Act. Counties will be able to use this funding to send informational mailings to voters, purchase equipment and protective supplies, promote and facilitate mail-in voting, increase needed staffing, and take other actions to improve election administration, voting safety, and security.
The Department of State is also acquiring ‘precinct infection-protection kits’ so poll workers can maintain a safe voting environment at polling locations. Kits include masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, floor-marking tape, and other sanitizing supplies.