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More Than 20K People Have Already Applied To Vote By Mail In The 2020 Primary

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Alan Diaz
/
AP

More than 20,000 Pennsylvanians have already applied online to vote by mail in the upcoming presidential primary, the first under a new state law that allows the practice.
“The immediate popularity of the application site shows that Pennsylvania voters have welcomed the new bipartisan voting reforms and the convenience of mail-in voting,” Gov. Tom Wolf said in a press release. “Pennsylvania has joined many other states in giving voters options in how they cast their ballots, making voting easier and more accessible than ever before.”

Pennsylvanians can apply to vote by mail online, and they have until 5 p.m. on April 21 to do so. Election officials must receive mail-in ballots by 8 p.m. on election night. The April 28 primary will be the first election in which Pennsylvanians can vote by mail. It’s also the first primary in which every county in the state will be using new voting machines that provide a paper trail to verify vote totals.

“Voters are already making great use of the opportunity to vote by mail for any reason or no reason at all,” Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said in a press release. “We expect that in the weeks to come many more voters will discover the convenience of applying online and voting by mail-in ballot.”

Counties can begin processing mail-in applications on March 9, after the ballot has been finalized.

But Allegheny County officials have warned that an influx of mail-in ballots will probably mean it will take longer to count votes. Under the law, election officials are only able to open ballots and tabulate results after polls close at 8 p.m. on election night.

This week, legislators in Harrisburg said that after hearing such concerns from around the state, they are considering new legislation that would allow poll workers to begin opening ballots earlier. Bills to address those concerns are still in the works.

Lucy Perkins is an editor and also reports on federal government and elections for the Government and Accountability team. Before joining the WESA newsroom, she was an NPR producer in Washington, D.C., working on news programs like All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. You can reach her at lperkins@wesa.fm.
WESA will be surveying Pennsylvania candidates for federal and state office for the 2022 general election — tell us which issues are most important to you.