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Former Governor Tom Ridge Calls On Legislature To Change Ballot Counting Law

Haraz N. Ghanbar
Former Pennsylvania Gov. and Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge lamented President Trump's denigration of voting by mail because Ridge says it may wind up hurting Republicans.

With less than eight weeks until Election Day, former Republican Governor Tom Ridge is calling on lawmakers to amend election law.

Ridge says county clerks should be able to process ballots before Election Day to prevent prolonged delays in results.

Under commonwealth law, election administrators cannot do anything to speed up ballot counting before election day.

But Ridge, who served as governor from 1995 to 2001, said those statutes are outdated.

“We must take all steps possible to ensure that officials can still run secure and efficient elections,” he said. “Any effort to the contrary only serves to discredit the outcome and the sanctify of our vote.”

Some election experts worry the influx of mail-in ballots could delay results in the key battleground state.

Pennsylvania is one of just three states – along with Michigan and Wisconsin – that do not allow clerks to process ballots before election day.

Ridge penned an open letter to the GOP controlled legislature calling on lawmakers to give clerks sufficient time to prepare and count ballots.

“A lot of eyes are going to be on this state in November,” he said. “My message to the Legislature, Republicans and Democrats, and to the administration: Inaction is not an option. Backing away from the table is not an option.”

Ridge said there is no reason County clerks should be prevented form opening envelopes, verifying signatures, and stacking ballots so they are ready to be counted.

The state House passed a GOP-sponsored bill last week that would allow ballot processing to begin three days before the election.

However, Governor Tom Wolf, a Democrat, has threatened to veto the bill that would move the deadline to apply for a mail in ballot up by a week.

Democrats, and some election directors, have called for a three-week window to begin processing ballots.

Read more from our partners, WITF.