A mail-in ballot option for all voters is just one of the voting changes for Pennsylvania in the 2020 presidential election year. Wochit
He says the governor needs to act now to get people in place to ensure results are available quickly.
Political analysts in Pennsylvania are watching closely as Iowa continues to tally votes amid public scrutiny and accusations of a rigged election.
They’re waiting to find out if Mayor Pete Buttigieg will remain the frontrunner in a crowded field of Democrats. But even more, they’re seeing this as a cautionary tale.
“This is an absolute fiasco. This cannot happen in Pennsylvania,” said Ed Rendell, a prominent Philadelphia Democrat who has spent decades in Pennsylvania politics as a two-term mayor, two-term governor and party chair.
He has reason to worry.
A recent York Daily Record/Sunday News story explained why Pennsylvania primary results could take three days to be counted.
Changes to state election laws allow early voting and mail-in ballots that can’t be counted until 8 p.m. on election night. Counties are given three days to have the totals in, and they might need the time if there are a lot of ballots to verify, scan and count.
Absentee ballots used to be counted at the precincts after the polls closed. Under the new law, they will have to be counted at the county elections office.
Elections staff will have to open the ballots, read the names and see if anyone raises any challenges. County election directors are concerned that could take a lot of time, depending on how many people vote by absentee or mail-in ballots.
A potential solution would be to allow staff to start counting before 8 p.m. on election night, but that would require a change in the law.
“That’s a conversation that would have to be had with the Legislature, but we are committed to being as helpful as possible with counties to implement the new voting law,” said J.J. Abbott, press secretary for Gov. Tom Wolf.
A change in law to allow counting before 8 p.m. is unlikely in the Republican-controlled state House and Senate because lawmakers are in favor of counting after the polls close.
Waiting until after the polls close to count the absentee and mail-in ballots lends legitimacy to the process, according to State Sen. Dan Laughlin, R-Erie County. It sends a message that every vote counts.
“I think everybody in this room is hoping for an accurate election — regardless of who you hope wins,” he said during a state hearing Monday.
2020 presidential election: Why Pa. is vital to Trump, Biden or anyone else who hopes to win
But not having results on election night could be detrimental, Rendell said.
“They can’t do that,” he said. “Even if every vote is counted perfectly, delays cast huge doubts on the integrity of the election.”
He’s calling on Gov. Wolf, lawmakers and county officials to “hire enough people to do the job on election night.”
“I know Governor Wolf will do everything he can. If counties need extra people, get them the extra people,” Rendell said.
Pollster Terry Madonna talks about the types of voters President Trump will need to carry Pennsylvania in the 2020 election. York Daily Record
All eyes will be on Pennsylvania in 2020 because it is a battleground state, said Terry Madonna, a pollster and political analyst at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster.
The state doesn’t want to make national news because of problems with new voting machines or because it’s taking too long to count mail-in ballots, he said.
It’s unknown how many voters will skip going to the polls and mail in their ballot, but trying something new in a presidential election year comes with its share of risks.
Iowa tried a new voting app with created a coding error and the resulting delay. The caucus was Monday, and as of Wednesday afternoon 71 percent of the votes were tallied. It’s unclear how long it will take for the full results to be announced.
“What a mess,” Madonna said. “This is a complete trainwreck.”
Rendell doesn’t want the same mess happening here.
“The state needs to do everything it can to make sure this doesn’t happen in Pennsylvania. Don’t make Pa. the next Iowa,” he said.
Candy Woodall covers the 2020 presidential election in Pennsylvania. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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