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July 23, 2024 1:27 pm

Local News

Getting word out to PA voters about mail-in, absentee ballots


Danielle Smith, Public News Service

With Pennsylvania’s primary election less than 60 days away, a nonpartisan group is stepping up the pace to educate people on voting by mail and by absentee ballot.

The redesigned mail-in ballot will debut statewide in April for more than eight-million registered voters. The ballot materials have a barcode, so no individual voter can be identified, said Jessica Myers, who co-chairs the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania’s voter services. The new ballot has graphics and updated instructions to help voters understand the mail-in process.

“The secrecy envelope has a yellow background with sort of a blue-gray colored watermark that says ‘Official Secrecy Ballot.’ There are some additional color coding and instructions on the outside of the envelope, including where the voters declaration is,” Myers said. “It’s prefilled with a ‘2-0’ so that we have fewer people writing in their birthdates.”

Myers added that voters are encouraged to write the date that they voted on the ballot before putting it in the mail or a dropbox. Pennsylvanians must be registered voters to request a mail-in ballot. The deadline to register to vote is April 8, and requests for mail-in ballots have to be received by April 16. After it’s filled out and mailed by the voter, the ballot must be received by 8 p.m. EDT on Election Day.

Amy Widestrom, the league’s Pennsylvania executive director, said voting integrity is a top priority, and contended that the election process in Pennsylvania is secure. In previous elections, she added, analyses of more than 31 million ballots cast found no significant incidence of voter fraud.

“So, only I think 21 were found,” Widestrom said. “The bulk of those were errors. People just thought they were voting in the right place, but weren’t. There were only five incidences of actual attempted voter fraud out of 31 million cast ballots. So, voter fraud is typically not an issue.”

Widestrom added that voters are not permanently on mail-in or absentee ballot lists – but to stay on that list for the year, residents must return the application form. If they don’t, then a voter has to request a mail-in or absentee ballot for each specific election. The League also has a website at Vote 411.org here people can look at a sample ballot before they head to the polls or mail in their ballot.

This article originally appeared on Public News Service and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.