Mail voting, new machines feature in Pennsylvania primary

Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The once-delayed Pennsylvania primary won’t determine the presidential nominees, by now a foregone conclusion. But the voting in two weeks will feature legislative and congressional races, a first run for some new paper-record voting systems and the inaugural use of newly legalized mail-in ballots.

Voter registration will end Monday for the June 2 primary. The latest figures show many Pennsylvanians have embraced the state’s new vote-by-mail option that was passed last year but has been widely adopted as a way to avoid pandemic exposure.

More than 1 million Pennsylvania voters have requested mail-in ballots, including 700,000 Democrats and 310,000 Republicans. For the first time, voters can obtain mail-in ballots without providing one of the excuses that have long been required for absentee voting. More than 220,000 Pennsylvanians have requested absentee ballots for the primary as well.

Those who vote in person will see the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic in the form of social-distancing guidelines and fewer polling places. Election officials are urging voters to check online to see whether their precincts have been moved or consolidated for the primary.

Strategists on both sides will be watching the results for trends, as the pandemic has brought changes that could make a difference in the fall.

“We encourage our candidates to knock on doors,” said Rep. Greg Rothman, R-Cumberland, who leads his caucus’ campaign efforts. “How does door-knocking look over the summer? We’re trying to figure that out.”

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