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Allegheny County voter turnout was higher this fall than past municipal elections

voting elections vote ballot campaign election day county building downtown pittsburgh.jpeg
Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

Voter turnout in Allegheny County was much higher on Tuesday than previous comparable elections, due in part to the state’s mail-in voting law that took effect last year. According to unofficial results, more than 32% of voters cast ballots this fall. Compare that with 2017, when turnout was 23.6%, or 20.62% in 2013.

That leap can — at least in part — be attributed to Pennsylvania’s 2019 election law, which expanded voting access and allowed any registered voter to vote by mail. It was passed with broad support from Republicans in Harrisburg, but data shows that Democrats are far more likely to vote by mail.

Millions of Pennsylvanians made use of the new option last year, the first year the new rule was in place, to vote safely from their home during the pandemic. But numbers show that the practice continues to be popular — about 30% of the more than 300,000 ballots cast in this week’s election were mailed in.

Those numbers could increase slightly in the coming days. The deadline for military and overseas ballots to be received is Nov. 9, and the county return board will begin going through ballots that need extra attention or review on Friday morning.

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.
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