Primary Election Today: Voting in a Time of Turmoil

HARRISBURG, Pa. (EYT) – Polls opened for the Pennsylvania primary at 7:00 a.m. today, Tuesday, June 2, in an election marred by everything from voting changes and a worldwide pandemic to riots in the streets.

(EDITOR’S NOTE 1: The above image is from a previous election.)

Polls will be open until 8:00 p.m. today.

While Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar reported that more than 1.8 million voters applied for a mail-in or absentee ballot during a recent conference, she also issued a reminder that the ongoing turmoil coupled with the new mail-in voting system may also lead to election results being posted more slowly than usual.

Boockvar stated that of the ballots sent out, roughly 700,000 hadn’t been returned yet, and issued a reminder that those who have received such ballots cannot mail them on Election Day to have them counted, but can return them directly to their county election office by 8 p.m. tonight.

Individuals who received a mail-in or absentee ballot but chose not to use it can also vote by provisional ballot at their normal polling location.

Secretary Boockvar urged voters going to the polls on Tuesday to practice the following precautions to protect themselves, other voters and poll workers:

  • Wear a mask.
  • Wash your hands before and after voting.
  • Bring your own blue- or black-ink pen to use.
  • Practice social distancing, maintaining at least a six-foot distance from others.
  • Follow poll workers’ instructions.

She also noted the department is providing counties with masks and face shields for poll workers, along with hand sanitizer, floor marking tape and other supplies for polling places so Pennsylvanians can safely exercise their right to vote during this COVID-19 Pandemic.

“To our dedicated poll workers and those voters who choose to vote at the polls on Tuesday, your health and safety are our main concern,” Secretary Boockvar said in a recent release. “With everyone’s patience and cooperation, we can have a safe and successful primary election day.”

Mail-in ballots are new to Pennsylvania under Act 77 of 2019, which Gov. Wolf signed last year as part of the state’s most sweeping election law improvements in 80 years. The law created the option of mail-in ballots with no excuse needed, along with later deadlines for voter registration and for returning mail-in and absentee ballots.

Amid the surge in mail-in ballots, the COVID-19 public health emergency and civil disturbances in six counties, Governor Tom Wolf also recently signed an executive order extending the deadline for county election offices in Allegheny, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties to receive absentee or mail-in ballots by mail to 5 p.m. June 9, 2020.

“This is an unprecedented time for Pennsylvania, and our nation as we face a major public health crisis and civil unrest during an election,” said Gov. Wolf.

“Voting is the cornerstone of our democracy, and I want to ensure that voters can cast their ballot and that it is received in time.”

While the vast majority of counties have been able to process their applications and mail their ballots, the volume of applications in the six counties named in the executive order caused by the COVID-19 crisis combined with the recent civil disturbance made it necessary to extend the deadline for the counties to receive completed civilian absentee and mail-in ballots, as curfews, travel restrictions and other unforeseen circumstances have made returning ballots more difficult in these counties.

Along with the complications caused by the ongoing pandemic, protests, and riots, voters in 22 counties across Pennsylvania will also be using new voting machines today.

Voters in Pennsylvania will select their parties’ nominees for the following offices:

  • President
  • State Attorney General
  • State Auditor General
  • State Treasurer
  • Representative in Congress
  • State Senator (odd-numbered districts)
  • State Representative
  • Delegate and Alternate Delegate to the National Convention (Democratic and Republican)

Results of the election will be posted on the department’s elections return site. The department collaborates with all 67 counties to post unofficial results on the site as soon as they are available.

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