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Deadlines Near for Voter Registration, Mail-In Ballot Requests

by on May 16, 2020 2:42 PM

Pennsylvania residents who plan to vote in the June 2 primary election have until Monday to make sure they are registered, but those who are registered and wish to vote by mail have a few more days to request a ballot.

To register to vote, individuals must be a U.S. citizen for at least 30 days prior to the election, a resident of Pennsylvania and the district where they plan to vote for at least 30 days before the election, and at least 18-years-old on or before the date of the election.

“I encourage all eligible Pennsylvanians to make sure they are registered to vote by the deadline on Monday,” Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said in a release on Saturday. “You can easily register or check your status on your cell phone or tablet at votesPA.com.”

Residents can access the online voter registration application here and can check their registration status here.

For the first time, all registered Pennsylvania voters have the option of voting by mail in the upcoming primary, as a result of bipartisan legislation signed into law last fall. 

The deadline to request a mail-in or civilian absentee ballot is 5 p.m. on May 26. Ballot request applications can be completed at the Pennsylvania Voter Services website. Centre County residents who are unable to complete an application online should contact the county Elections and Voter Registration Office at (814) 355-6703.

To help the county elections office from becoming overwhelmed by last-minute requests, residents who wish to vote by mail are asked to submit their applications as soon as possible.

Ballots then must be completed and received by the county elections office no later than 8 p.m. on June 2.

Though legislation that permits mail-in voting was passed with bipartisan support long before the COVID-19 pandemic, persistent concerns about the spread of the virus have led to a spike in ballot requests. 

More than a million Pennsylvanians have requested mail-in ballots and both the Pennsylvania GOP and Pennsylvania Democratic Party have promoted mail-in voting as a safe alternative to going to a physical voting site.

Patton Township's Board of Supervisors passed a resolution at its meeting on Wednesday urging all voters to cast their ballots by mail as a way to protect poll workers from COVID-19.

"For those who choose to vote in person on June 2, we strongly encourage everyone to wear a mask and maintain appropriate social distance," Supervisor Anita Thies said in a statement on behalf of the board.

Centre County Board of Commissioners Chair Michael Pipe said recently he hopes to see as many county residents as possible vote by mail to reduce safety risks, but that polling places will be open and ready on June 2.

"We would love it if every ballot that’s cast is before the election, and our poll workers set up shop, nobody comes in because everybody’s voted by mail and they pack up and go home," Pipe said. "That would be terrific, but we are pragmatists. We understand the practical nature of people still wanting to cast their ballot [in person]."

Because of the pandemic, several voting locations in the county will be moved, as senior living facilities that served as voting sites in the past will not be used for the primary. Residents will be notified if their voting location changes.

Boockvar said on May 4 that protective kits will be provided to every precinct in the state and will include masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, sanitizing cleaners for equipment and floor-marking tape to establish appropriate distancing.

Originally scheduled for April 28, Pennsylvania's primary election was moved to June 2 amid COVID-19 concerns. Republicans and Democrats will vote for party nominees for president, U.S. representative, state attorney general, auditor general, state representative and delegate to party nominating conventions.



Geoff Rushton is managing editor for StateCollege.com. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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