Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar urges voters who plan to cast their ballot through the mail to send it in this week or drop it off at a secure drop box or the local election office.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monday that the state will be allowed to count mail-in ballots that are postmarked by Election Day as long as they arrive in the local elections office by Nov. 6.
Regardless of the court decision, Boockvar said, the important message to voters is that they need to cast their ballot by Nov. 3 in order for it to count.
“If they are going to be put in the mail, they need to be mailed this week,” she said. “If they are going to be dropped off, they need to be dropped off by Nov. 3.”
Boockvar, during a news conference on Wednesday, outlined that voters have more options than they did in the past. They include:
- Mail in the ballot.
- Drop it off at the local elections office.
- Drop it in a secure drop box if your local county offers one.
- Vote early in-person by requesting a mail-in ballot at the local elections office. Fill it out and turn it back in with just one trip.
“Just get it in before Nov. 3,” she said.
U.S. Postal Service informed about ballots
The Pennsylvania Department of State has been in frequent contact with the U.S. Postal Service about the millions of ballots going to voters across the state, said Jonathan M. Marks, deputy secretary for elections and commissions.
Officials provide the postal service with data, such as how many ballots are hitting the mail stream and how many might be returned, he said. The postal service also has twice weekly calls with counties’ board of elections to hear about any concerns.
If a county raises a specific issue or has a question, state officials get in touch with U.S. Postal Service contacts, and “they can help us look into any isolated incidents where mail may be slow at a particular post office,” Marks said.
For the last three weekends, Marks said, he has been on the phone with the postal service, “trying to get some information to allay the fears of various counties as they’re getting questions from their voters.”
The ballots are being processed by the postal service, and it’s been very successful, Boockvar said. However, she is urging voters to drop off their ballots in person, if possible.
“That’s just the safest way to go,” she said.
That way, she added, voters don’t have to worry about it.
All-time record high for voter registration in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania marked a record high for total number of registrations, as Monday was the last day to register to vote.
More than 56,000 voter registration applications were submitted online on the last day, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State.
On Wednesday, the department provided the latest numbers:
- Total: 9,050,870
- Democratic: 4,220,397
- Republican: 3,526,857
- No affiliation: 904,440
- Other: 399,176
Mail-in and absentee applications
- Total: 2,861,900
- Democratic: 1,825,587
- Republican: 714,079
- Other: 322,234
Ballots in the process of being mailed
- Total of approved applications: 2,861,900
- Number of ballots confirmed for mailing: 2,818,573
Mail-in and absentee ballots returned
- Total returned: 1,179,808
- Returned by Democratic voters: 847,349
- Returned by Republican voters: 227,481
- Returned by independents/non-affiliation: 104,978
Deadline looming for voting early in person, mail-in ballot requests
Tuesday is the deadline to apply for an absentee or mail-in ballot or to vote early in person. Applications must be in the county elections office or another designated location by 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Voters can go to their county elections office to vote early in person. Voters can apply for a mail-in ballot, receive one if approved, fill it out and turn it back in. It can be done in one trip.
Tuesday will be the last day for voting early in person because it involves a mail-in ballot.
To request a mail-in or absentee ballot, visit www.votespa.com, contact the county elections office, or call 1-877-VOTESPA.
When unofficial results might be in
Pennsylvania will be able to count ballots that are postmarked Nov. 3 as long as they arrive in the elections office by 5 p.m. Nov. 6.
Boockvar estimates that counties will have counted the overwhelming majority of ballots by the Friday after Election Day.
Overseas and military ballots can come in later, and provisional ballots take longer to count, she said. But for the in-person voting and the mail-in and absentee ballots, “it’s going to be a matter of days.”