With 11 days left until the Nov. 3 election, nearly 1.5 million ballots already have been cast through the mail in Pennsylvania.
That’s about 50 percent of the number of absentee and mail-in ballot applications that have been approved.
Tuesday is the deadline to apply for a no-excuse or absentee ballot. The application must be received by the local election office or another designated location by 5 p.m. that day. To apply, visit www.votespa.com.
Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said voters should apply for a ballot through the mail now — if that’s how they plan to cast their ballot — and to return it as soon as possible.
“I’m urging every Pennsylvanian who plans to vote by mail to complete and return their ballot this weekend, so that they can feel confident that their ballot will be received in time,” Boockvar said.
Ballots need to be cast by Election Day. Options exist for voters, such as dropping it off at a secure drop box if your county offers one or handing it in at the local elections office.
Election security, voter intimidation discussed
Boockvar said she wants voters to know that Pennsylvania is prepared and protected when it comes to any attempted interference in the electoral process whether it comes from overseas, such as Iran or Russia, or domestic, such as the Proud Boys.
Earlier this week, U.S. authorities said Iranian hackers sent threatening emails, claiming to be linked to the Proud Boys, to voters in several states, including Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania Department of State has not received specific reports of individuals in the state receiving those emails, Boockvar said.
Boockvar talked about the steps the state has taken in the last four years to address security concerns.
“Since 2016, we have greatly intensified our election security efforts. We fortified our voting system defenses. We’ve established a layered set of protections that are in place 24/7,” Boockvar said. “And we work very closely with local, state and federal law enforcement and security partners to continuously monitor and protect our security.”
In the past two years, all 67 counties have installed new voting systems that meet the latest standards for security, auditability and accessibility, she said. They offer a paper trail.
Voter intimidation is illegal under state and federal law.
If voters receive a threatening email, robocall or text or another form of voter intimidation, they should:
- Contact their local election office.
- Call their county district attorney.
- Call 1-877-VOTESPA.
Reports will be investigated and any offenses will be prosecuted, Boockvar said.
Videotaping voters is a concern
President Donald Trump’s campaign has been videotaping voters in Philadelphia as they drop off their ballots, and it has asked city officials to stop using “unmanned drop boxes,” the Associated Press reported. The campaign alleges that voters are dropping off more than one ballot, which is illegal.
Boockvar said the videotaping of voters is a concern, and the state has been in touch with law enforcement on this issue. She said she defers to law enforcement on any prosecution.
She said the department will continue working with the counties and law enforcement on these issues.
Selfies are allowed at the polls
Voters can take selfies in the voting booth. Courts have ruled it’s a First Amendment right for voters to snap those photos.
“So remember to smile when you’re casting your ballot,” Boockvar said.
Election 2020 by the numbers
The final registration numbers are expected next week, Boockvar said.
Here are the latest figures for Pennsylvania:
- Total: 9,071,343
- Democratic: 4,226,337
- Republican: 3,536,684
- No affiliation: 909,087
- Other: 399,235
Mail-in and absentee applications
- Total: 2,940,219
- Democratic: 1,864,361
- Republican: 739,511
- Other: 336,347
Ballots in the process of being mailed
- Total of approved applications: 2,940,219
- Number of ballots confirmed for mailing: 2,898,512
Mail-in and absentee ballots returned
- Total returned:1,449,400
- Returned by Democratic voters: 1,023,402
- Returned by Republican voters: 293,318
- Returned by independents/non-affiliation: 132,680
Also, 66,484 ballots have been cast over-the-counter — voting early in person.