State officials: Don't wait to apply for June 2 primary mail-in ballot
Protesters rally outside of Gov. Wolf’s home in Mount Wolf, Saturday, May 2, 2020. York Dispatch
Pennsylvania voters who want to use a mail-in ballot for the June 2 primary should submit an application as soon as possible instead of waiting until the deadline, state officials said Monday.
Nearly 1 million people statewide have applied for mail-in or absentee ballots ahead of the primary, Gov. Tom Wolf said.
"From where we stand today, it is unlikely that we'll eradicate COVID-19 from our commonwealth by June 2, but we still need to hold a primary election," Wolf said.
Wolf and state Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar have been encouraging voters for weeks to take advantage of voting by mail in a bid to reduce voters' and poll workers' exposure to the novel coronavirus.
But they assured voters that polling places will still be open for those who want to vote in person, and the state will supply masks and other personal protective equipment to poll workers.
The last day to register to vote before the primary is May 18, and the deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot is May 26.
County election officials must process the applications for mail-in ballots and verify the voter's identity before sending the voter a ballot, so those who wait until the last minute will only have one week to apply for the ballot, receive the ballot, fill out the it and return it to elections officials.
All ballots must be in the possession of county election officials before 8 p.m. June 2, so voters who wait until the last minute to apply for their mail-in ballots should not depend on the U.S. Postal Service to return their ballots in time to be counted, Boockvar said.
"You can deliver your ballot in person to your county election office as late as 8 p.m. on election day," Boockvar said, adding that this will be the safest way to guarantee the ballot arrives on time.
As of Wednesday, 26,712 people in York County had applied for mail-in or absentee ballots, or about 9.3% of the county's 288,000 registered voters, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State.
Steve Ulrich, director of elections and voter registration for York County, has said the elections department staff have been working day and night to process all of the ballot applications and get the ballots sent out to voters.