With Results On Election Night At Stake, Pa. Lawmakers Cannot Get Beyond Partisan Politics To Solve A Problem

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — We are just 18 days from Election Day, but will we know who won the presidency on Election Night?

Pennsylvania could be one of the last states to declare a winner because of a problem that the legislature and governor could solve right now.

Thirty-two states allow election staff to pre-canvass or start preparing mail-in ballots for counting before Election Day. But Pennsylvania is not among them. A bill to change that has become bogged down in partisan politics in Harrisburg.

“It should have been done months ago, and it’s unfortunate, frankly, because the process was very bipartisan to start,” says J.J. Abbott with Commonwealth Communications, a progressive non-profit organization focused on elections.

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Both Republicans and Democrats agree that allowing counties to get a head-start on counting mail-in ballots makes sense but getting the law changed to allow that has not been easy.

“If a pre-canvassing bill were put to a vote, it would pass and it would get signed into law. Unfortunately, the Republicans made a choice to derail that process for their own ideological priorities,” said Abbott.

Democrats say Republicans, who control the legislature, are holding pre-canvassing hostage to other election changes.

The House did approve a bill (H.B. 2626) to allow pre-canvassing three days before Election Day, but the bill also contained measures not supported by Governor Tom Wolf, like limiting drop boxes and setting back mail-in ballot deadlines.

“We passed a bill six weeks ago that provides for significant pre-canvassing measures. But it also takes into account expanding and clarifying voting options, as well as providing security components to make sure the integrity of our elections is beyond repute,” said Jason Gottesman, spokesman for the House Republican Caucus.

As things stand now, the governor says he’s willing to compromise, but no one sees a compromise in the making.

So as other states declare a winner on Election Night, unless there’s a landslide for one candidate, Pennsylvania may do what Florida did in 2000 in the presidential race — hold up the outcome for weeks to come.