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PA Campaigns Weather Uncertainty, Keep Election Plans Flexible As Nov. 3 Approaches

Matt Rourke
Benjamin Graff, center, and his son Jacob Graff, 19, drop off their mail-in ballots for the Pennsylvania primary election, in Philadelphia, Tuesday, June 2, 2020.

It was still pretty early in the campaign cycle when Dena Gleason, who heads the campaign committee for Pennsylvania State House Democrats, knew she’d have to throw the usual playbook out the window.

“We wake up every day as nimble as possible,” she said. “At a moment’s notice, we’re ready to adjust.”

That nimbleness is becoming even more necessary in the final months before the election.

Big voting law changes, coupled with the global pandemic, nationwide social unrest and Pennsylvania’s status as a crucial swing state, meant that no matter what November 2020 would be high stakes for campaigns and state and county officials.

Several more recent developments have upped the ante.

Nationwide mail delays are calling into question whether ballots postmarked by Pennsylvania’s due date — right now, Election Day — can possibly be counted in time.

Gleason said the House Democratic Campaign Committee’s strategy has always been to inform voters of as many options for casting ballots as possible. The big change this year is that they’re trying to get out the messaging more quickly than ever.

“We’re making a push earlier than we might have in a normal situation, with a regularly functioning Postal Service,” she said. “The earlier we can get these requests in, these ballots sent back, that’s what we want to do.”