Harrisburg, Pa. – With election is just five days away, new issues and courtroom dramas continue to unfurl in states across the country amid the unprecedented circumstances of the historic 2020 election.
During a press conference today, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar provided information regarding voting, election coverage, reporting results, and answered numerous questions about the status of voting in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania counties are preparing to process a large amount of ballots as the state anticipates receiving over 3 million ballots on election day, according to Gov. Wolf.
Due to this high number, the Governor said that state election results–even unofficial ones, which are normally called a few hours after polls close–will not be available until after election day.
“We’re sure it will take more time than it used to. We probably won’t know results on election night,” said Gov. Wolf.
Unofficial results are usually reported by news outlets within hours of the polls closing on election day. The official election results are not available until after they are certified 20 days after the election to ensure accurate counts and address any discrepancies or contestations, if they arise.
This year, Pennsylvania joined multiple states in passing a law that allows mail-in ballots to be counted up to 3 days after election day.
The law faced immediate backlash from Republican lawmakers, who took the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court ruled to allow the extension, at least for now.
As a precaution, county offices have been asked to keep any ballots received after Nov. 3 sorted separately from ballots received on or before election day.
Secretary Boockvar said she does not anticipate any problems and the ballot separation is just a "precaution." She also noted the fact that accepting ballots after election day is nothing new, since ballots from military stationed overseas are accepted up to a week after election day.
Boockvar also addressed concerns about county election offices.
Election offices in Butler county were reportedly checking voter ID's and signatures before accepting mail-in ballots, which is not required by law. In Cumberland county, election officials reportedly said they would not begin processing ballots until Wednesday, the day after election day.
"We're having a conversation with any county that say they're waiting," said Boockvar. "I want every one of them starting on election day."
As of now, 99% of mail-in ballots have been sent to voters, according to Boockvar.
Voters are encouraged to immediately hand-deliver mail ballots to their county election office, drop box, or other designated location.
“At this point, voters should hand-deliver their ballots to be assured their vote will be counted,” said Gov. Wolf. “We strongly urge you not to return your voted ballot in the mail with only five days left before Election Day. Do not wait. Now is the time to take your ballot to your county’s designated ballot return location and you will have peace of mind that your voice will be heard in this election.”
Voters who applied for a mail ballot, but decide they want to vote at the polls must bring their entire mail ballot packet with them on election day. They may then vote on their county’s voting system. If a voter does not bring their entire mail ballot packet, including both envelopes, they may vote by provisional ballot at the polls on Election Day.
Additionally, should a voter’s absentee or mail‐in ballot be rejected for a reason other than their qualification or eligibility to vote, such as a missing signature or naked ballot, they may vote by provisional ballot on election day.
“Pennsylvania is ready for Election Day,” said Secretary Boockvar. “Voters should cast their ballots knowing that the commonwealth is doing everything it can to protect their rights while keeping them safe.”
When asked if the state has a plan for potential civil unrest following the election, the Governor expressed confidence in the state's plan.
“I’m not sure what the reason for unrest might be," he said "but if there is [unrest], we’ll be prepared for it.”
Voters are reminded that voter intimidation and discriminatory conduct at the polls are illegal under federal and Pennsylvania law. Anyone who suspects voter intimidation or who believes they are the victim of voter intimidation should report the incident to their county board of elections and county district attorney immediately. They may also contact the Pennsylvania Department of State at 1-877-VOTESPA (1-877-868-3772).
If you plan to vote on Election Day, check your polling place location. Polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on November 3. If a voter is in line at 8 p.m., they may still vote. Voters who plan to vote at their polling place on Election Day should wear a mask and follow social distancing guidelines.