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Pa. Secretary of State urges counties to start processing mail ballots on Election Day

Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar today called on all Pennsylvania counties to begin pre-canvassing mail-in and absentee ballots as close to 7 a.m. as possible on Nov. 3, the earliest time they can do so.

Pennsylvania law allows counties to start pre-canvassing mail ballots when the polls open. Pre-canvassing includes opening ballot envelopes, removing inner envelopes and ballots, and scanning the ballots. At 8 p.m. when the polls close, counties may begin to record and publish the counts.

“The outcome of Tuesday’s election could well depend on Pennsylvania,” Boockvar said. “It is vitally important that the more than 3 million ballots cast by mail here be counted as soon as possible.”

Secretary Boockvar emphasized that public and private funding is available to reimburse counties for the cost of additional resources needed to implement mail-in voting, including staffing, equipment, third-party support, and other tools needed for pre-canvassing and canvassing of ballots.

“We are directly reaching out to the counties to explain why it matters to get started with pre-canvassing on Election Day, even if they can only do part of it,” Boockvar said. “The overwhelming majority of counties are already planning to start pre-canvassing mail ballots the moment they can. I urge those few counties thinking about waiting until after the election to reconsider.”

So far, about 73 percent of the more than 3 million ballots mailed to Pennsylvania voters have been voted and returned to counties.

Boockvar urged voters who have not yet returned their mail ballot to hand-deliver their ballot now to ensure their ballot will be counted.

Mail ballots must be returned to county election officessatellite election offices or other designated drop-off locations. A voted mail ballot cannot be returned to the voter’s polling place on election day.

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