Secretary of State reports ‘smooth’ election despite new ways to vote, impacts from pandemic, civil unrest

Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar held a press conference Tuesday night reporting that Pennsylvania’s primary election ran without a hitch despite the changes and challenges it faced.

The Department of State says almost 1.8 million Pennsylvanians were approved to vote by mail-in and absentee ballot, which is 17 times greater than the number who applied for an absentee ballot for the last presidential primary in 2016.

The only issue Boockvar reported in the midstate were some ballots with bar codes that would not scan properly in Lancaster County, due to ink that was too light. Not all precincts experienced the problem, she said.

All affected ballots were placed into a secure ballot box and will be counted centrally by elections officials.

Elsewhere, at least one county courthouse was shut down due to protests over the death of George Floyd, and in Bucks County, some ballots were too large to be inserted into the voting machines. Those ballots were also deposited into a secure box and will be counted at a later time.

For those who looked to cast a ballot in-person, poll workers throughout the commonwealth worked to make the process as safe as possible with several guidelines in place.

Counties were equipped with masks and face shields for poll workers, along with hand sanitizer, floor-marking tape, and other supplies. Voters were asked to wear face masks and practice social distancing.

“Today, we marked two major milestones in Pennsylvania’s electoral history,” Boockvar said in a release. “For the first time, Pennsylvania voters could vote by mail-in ballot without having to provide an excuse, and they did so in impressive numbers. And all 67 counties have now deployed new, more secure and accessible voting systems with voter-verifiable paper ballots. I am extremely thankful for and proud of Pennsylvania’s dedicated election officials, poll workers and, of course, voters.”

The State Department notified counties that they had to choose a new voting system that provided a verifiable paper record by the end of 2019 and implement by the 2020 primary. All 67 counties have now met those deadlines.

The governor did extend the deadline for six counties for mail-in ballots as protests remain prominent around those areas in Allegheny, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties.

The extension validates votes that were postmarked by today, June 2, and are received by 5 p.m. June 9.

The Department of State says it anticipates delays in vote-counting and finals results due to the volume of mail-in ballots in addition to Gov. Wolf’s executive order to extend the deadline.

Boockvar said Tuesday night that her department will now begin working with counties to better streamline the mail-in ballot process and establish timelines ahead of November’s election, in addition to lobbying the General Assembly to pass legislation that would increase the amount of time counties have to count ballots. Right now, county officials can only begin counting at 7am on Election Day.

As unofficial election results become available from counties, they will be posted at www.electionreturns.pa.gov.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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