Pennsylvanians Urged To Drop Off Mail-In Ballots In Person

Oct 28, 2020

Mail-in ballots for the 2020 General Election in the United States are seen before being sorted at the Chester County Voter Services office, Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, in West Chester, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Credit Matt Slocum / Associated Press

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — With six days until Election Day, Pennsylvania’s top elections official on Wednesday urged voters in the presidential battleground state who have one of the roughly 1 million mail-in ballots outstanding to drop it off in person rather than mail it.

In addition to concerns over Postal Service delays, litigation in front of the U.S. Supreme Court is raising doubts over the timing of the deadline for counties to receive mail-in ballots.

The state Republican Party is asking the court to reinstate an Election Day deadline for receiving ballots, rather than the state court-ordered Nov. 6, three days after the election.

It is unclear whether or when the court will take up the case. But, in a sign of the uncertainty the litigation is brewing, Pennsylvania told counties on Wednesday to set aside and not count those ballots arriving after polls close until they get further direction from the state.

“At this point we are not recommending that anybody put their ballots in the mail, just drop it off in person,” Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar told reporters Wednesday. “We really recommend that you drop it off in person.”

The deadline to apply for mail-in ballots passed on Tuesday. Voters applied for almost 3.1 mail-in or absentee ballots, with about 2 million returned thus far, election officials say.

There are a variety of ways to drop off mail-in ballots, including at secure election drop boxes, county election offices and other county-designated drop-off locations.

Boockvar also urged counties to begin the laborious task of processing mail-in and absentee ballots on Election Day — tasks like removing ballots from their outer and inner envelopes — so that they can be more quickly scanned and tabulated.

Counties expect to need up to three days after Election Day to tabulate the vast majority of mail-in ballots, whether they are dropped off or mailed, with expectations that many mail-in votes will not be counted the night of the election.

Gov. Tom Wolf and his fellow Democrats in the state Legislature had pressed for legislation allowing counties to process mail-in ballots before Election Day, but Republicans blocked it.