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Gov. Wolf pushes plan to make voting by mail safer, smoother

Governor Tom Wolf on Thursday urged the legislature to quickly pass his voting reform plan that would require counties to start sending mail-in ballots at least 28 days before the election, prepare returned ballots for tallying sooner, and count eligible ballots postmarked by election day and received by the following Friday.

“These proposed reforms will further strengthen our elections, help people to vote safely from home, and assist counties in processing the surge in mail-in ballots,” said Wolf.

Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly embraced mail-in voting during the primary in June, with nearly 1.5 million voters casting a mail-in or absentee ballot, more than half of all votes cast.

Based on experience in the primary, Wolf called on the legislature to take immediate action on election improvements including:

  • Allowing counties to start pre-canvassing ballots 21 days before the election rather than at 7 a.m. election day to make vote counting faster. Pre-canvassing involves counties scanning and verifying the ballot envelope, matching the voter’s signature to voter rolls, opening the mail and secrecy envelopes, and removing and scanning the ballot. Counties would not tabulate or report vote totals until polls close at 8 p.m. on election day.
  • Allowing counties to count eligible ballots postmarked by election day and received by the Friday following election day to ensure that all ballots mailed by the deadline are counted.
  • Requiring counties to start sending mail-in ballots at least 28 days before the election rather than 14 days as currently required. The change ensures voters who apply early will have at least four weeks to receive and return their ballot.
  • Providing counties flexibility to appoint poll workers to vacant positions earlier than five days before an election. More poll workers are still needed, and the Department of State is encouraging businesses, colleges and organizations to reach out to their county elections office and volunteer at their local precincts.

The governor also reminded voters that the best way to make sure their vote is counted is to sign up now for a mail-in ballot and return it well before the Nov. 3 election.

Eligible voters may apply for their mail-in or absentee ballot online at, in person at their county election offices, or by paper forms submitted by mail. Once the county determines the voter is eligible, counties will send the voter a ballot with return postage paid by the Department of State, so casting a ballot is free to voters.

Voters have several convenient options to return their ballot by mail, in person at their county election office or at drop boxes, which many counties expect to provide.

Voters may register to vote and apply for their mail-in or absentee ballot online, in person at their county election offices, or by paper forms submitted by mail. The voter registration deadline for the Nov. 3 general election is Oct. 19. The deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot is Oct. 27.

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  • Cecil you just lost all your credibility. What do you call nightly fires, destruction, violence, and occasional murder. Mostly peaceful protest? You are a joke. Ok now cut and paste some more silly articles.

    • “Silly articles”. It’s your right to stay uninformed. If you think it’s silly to know, for example, the breakdown of voter affiliation in a huge election, guilty as charged. But feel free to abstain from reading and rely on a Facebook echo chamber.

      When it comes to the social unrest, perhaps everyone should keep asking nicely for the police to stop being big meanies shooting people for another couple of decades. But in all seriousness – sometimes this is what happens when things hit a boiling point.

      Are you old enough to remember the Stonewall Riots? Incredibly important in the history of LGBT rights in this country. And yes, they were violent.

      Unfortunately, when the LGBT community tried asking the NYPD to stop arresting them, beating them, or destroying their establishments for being (*gasp*) gay, the NYPD didn’t want to listen. Cue the Stonewall Riots, and the ensuing advances in civil rights.

      Today, the NYPD still hasn’t learned anything – decades after Abner Louima and Amadou Diallo. Years after Eric Garner. And as we’ve seen since the iPhone era, a lot of other police departments are angling for a new Stonewall of their own, and surprise – they’re getting it.

      So let’s ratchet it back and start with a peaceful first step that we should all be able to agree on –

      People on the right usually like to selectively destroy unions, so let’s go that route – can we PLEASE start by eliminating all police unions so they can stop acting as roving executioners and be properly fired/prosecuted/jailed?

      That would be a great first step.

      I also think we all hate ISIS, so let’s destroy the new American ISIS – angry, undereducated incel men between the ages of 17-50 loading themselves into the back of pickup trucks, waving guns with flags hoisted.

      For example –



      Surely we can all agree on that.

    • That’s beautiful dude, Stonewall was more than 50 years ago. I think our society has made some progress on gay rights. But sure let’s use stonewall as an excuse for 100 days of destruction, fires, and violence in the name of…..welI I don’t know and neither do the rioters. You can count the number of police shootings of unarmed black people on 2 hands. Each one a tragedy, and someone needs to be held to account. As long as the “black people are being slaughtered by cops” narrative can be related to general national misery that can be pinned on Trump. And I hate the guy too but you and the other malcontents are just so transparent in your disingenuous motives. Would you be so apocalyptic about bad cops and Covid if Hillary won? Be honest. At least we can agree that all unions, including police unions, are useless self serving democratic political apparatchiks.

      • Society has made progress on gay rights, no one said otherwise. That’s the point. Sometimes tipping points matter, and it’s not always comfortable. It doesn’t have to be comfortable.

        You act like progress is fast – Stonewall was more than 50 years ago. Gay marriage wasn’t legalized federally until 5 years ago. A kid who’s currently in 1st grade was alive while gay marriage was still illegal in this country, because half the country fantasizes about dragging us back to some unholy union of Leave It To Beaver, Lawrence Welk, and The Osmonds.

        If you don’t know what the current social unrest is about, that’s on you. If you think things are going to quiet down as long as cops are treated as paramilitary, allowed to kill or maim anytime they feel nervous, and rarely given more than a slap on the wrist, you’re wrong. The genie is out of the bottle. What do you think is going to happen? People are now going to change their minds and say “you know what, it’s fine. shoot away!” and things are going to go backwards? Change is happening and more is on the way. You’re finally starting to see cops arrested and charged, the next step is ensuring convictions.

        And no, I don’t agree for a second that “all unions” are bad. I fully support ALL labor unions, except police unions. I support all unions that aren’t used to hide or defend murder.

        Don’t worry, though. If your fantasy is a country where rich white men get to pay the non-unionized rabble near slave wages, and then have a roving security force shoot them whenever they get antsy, you’ve already got it.

  • Cecil the only issue I take is the “Trump votes my mail” thing. There’s a difference between absentee voting (I did it when I was in college many years ago…I’m very old) and universal vote by mail. We’re trying to change the fundamental rules of voting TWO MONTHS BEFORE THE ELECTION??? …..DURING COVID AND THE RIOTS??? That is insanity. We don’t have our sh*t together as a country to pull this off, not by a long shot. November and December are going to be a NIGHTMARE. Bush/Gore is going to look like a walk in the park by comparison. I’m serious when I say…if I’m right (and I hope I’m not), I’m not sure our democracy will survive it.

    • Well then you should have no problem with Pennsylvania – it is regular absentee voting, not “universal”.

      And give me a break about “the riots”. No one should be falling for the disgusting dog whistles of Trump’s “they’re coming for you suburban housewives”, straight out of some Bull Connor playbook. Even if there were “riots” around election day, better that more were already mailed in early.

      And if the United States “doesn’t have our sh*t together” to pull off something as easy as mail in voting in 2020, you have one man to blame.

      There are two reasons Trump doesn’t want mail-in voting.

      The first is one where he’s shooting himself in the foot with his messaging. Take North Carolina as an example:

      “As of Tuesday, 53% percent of the requests came from Democrats, Bitzer said, compared with 31% from unaffiliated voters and 16% from Republicans. While Republican requests were seven times ahead of 2016, he said, those from unaffiliated voters were up 17 times and from Democrats, 22 times.”

      That’s the result when you spend months telling your supporters it’s bad, and it could haunt him.

      The second is simple:

      He doesn’t want a paper trail. The more mail in ballots, the more solid the paper trail is for any “voting irregularities”. Perhaps if he’s worried about voting problems, he should have spent time focusing on the “voting machine problems” that crop up in every election, for example:

      Since we have so many poorly secured voting machines around the country, many of which have no paper backup, the idea of a rock solid paper trail via signed, postmarked ballots is scary to a man that opened his presidency by having Sean Spicer scream at us about having the “largest crowd ever” at an inauguration. Alternative facts indeed.

  • Well, the Jonestown crowd is here, Kool-Aid in tow.

    Your Dear Leader votes by mail, along with his entire family, and has for many years. They are all able bodied citizens perfectly capable of walking into a polling location in person.

    Sitting Presidents, Governors, Mayors, Senators, Congresspeople, and their families do it in person all the time, usually with camera crews behind them. Why can’t President Nero?

    If “being too rich to vote in person” is a valid excuse, so is “there is a global pandemic and no one can predict what November 3rd will look like”.

    If “being too rich to vote in person” is a valid excuse, so is “the sitting President of the United states is encouraging armed vigilantes associated with the Proud Boys, Patriot Prayer, and Boogaloo Boys to show up at polling locations”.

    For those who do choose to vote in person, I’m glad the NBA will be opening their arenas and organizing a campaign to hire many more poll workers. Hopefully all of the other professional sports organizations will follow suit so we have as many of these mega-locations as possible – urban areas are going to need them if the GOP led targeted polling site closures are any indication (witness the Georgia primaries).

    Stop being scared of people voting.

    Now get me straight – I think it’s TOTALLY FINE if you choose to vote in person. I’m absolutely not saying you shouldn’t be allowed to – by all means, go for it. I support you voting in whatever way you can – for whomever you choose!

    But you need to stop trying to stop others from voting by using the EXACT method the Trump family uses. Voter suppression is not ok. Don’t f’ing tell me how I “should” vote, and I won’t tell you how you should. It’s none of your business.

    If it’s ok for Trump to vote by mail, it’s ok for the rest of us.

    Look at his actions (voting by mail), not just his Twitter rants. Stop letting him give you the ol’ Giancarlo Granda treatment while you sit back and watch.

    • Let us all remember Absentee ballots are fine what we do not want is 10 Million ballots for 8.882 million citizens in NJ.Flooding the state with ballots after what happen in Paterson,NJ should give a hint what Murphy he has in mind.

  • Simple, if you can go to Walmart and every other retailer you can get off your ass and vote. Both Fauci and Birx have stated that there is NO reason to avoid voting in person. Mask, 6 feet and you are done.

    • 1. I don’t go to “Walmart and every other retailer”. I’ve found it rather easy to avoid literally all in-store shopping since this started; in fact it’s been a pleasure to not jostle around big box stores, relics of the late 20th century. I can’t imagine what I’d need to see in person at a Walmart.

      2. By your logic (“if you can go to a Walmart…you can…”) – if I can do 100% of my retail business via mail, I can vote by mail.

      3. The big question is this WHY do you care if I vote by mail? I don’t care if you vote in person. I completely support you voting by whatever method you choose – voting is good! So again – is there a legitimate reason you don’t want others to? Explain.

      If you’re going to say “voter fraud”, let me submit this first –

      Right here in Pennsylvania, a federal judge asked to Trump campaign to produce evidence to back up it’s claims of vote-by-mail fraud –

      That’s right, in response to the request for evidence, the campaign came up with zero instances.

      So one last time – I don’t care if you vote in person, why do you care if I vote by mail?

  • We all should be aiming to vote in person the same way we have all been going to the grocery store. With a mask, keeping a safe distance and some hand sanitizer on hand. This way people who have legitimate reasons for not voting in person can vote.

  • Common sense steps. As of one week ago 30 mail sorting machines have already been removed from Pennsylvania –

    Dejoy lied to Congress, saying these steps would be halted until after the election. This brand new sorting machine was thrown out in Colorado this week –

    The only reason we know about it is because a citizen noticed. It’s still happening.

    (As a side note, I suppose this is what now counts as fiscal responsibility – purchase expensive machine with taxpayer dollars, spend months setting it up, immediately dismantle before using once, move to dumpster.)

    If they’re going to go to extraordinary lengths to slow the mail, we need extraordinary measures to make sure the mail arrives where it needs to get on time and is processed correctly.

      • Soooo, just so we’re clear –

        1. Clerk that works in the actual mail facility where it happened says it was a new machine they were ordered to throw away. They imagined what happened.

        2. USPS “spokesperson” (i.e. who’s job it is to relay whatever information Dejoy and others at top want out there)

        3. If you’ve already decided to accept the Dejoy spokesperson’s statement, we also accept the coincidence that the machine broke and was discarded during the exact period that it’s happening across the country, as if these machines are dumped like this regularly.

        That’s some mental gymnastics.

        Vote in person Sandra, or vote by mail, or vote using a dropbox – and please allow everyone else to vote however they would like to as well.

        In fact, I wish we cared enough to have a society where EVERYONE felt they had skin in the game and followed the Australian/Belgian model of compulsory voting. Until that day – let’s all vote, by any means we choose.

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