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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: May 26, 2020 03:55 PM
From: Representative Liz Hanbidge
To: All House members
Subject: Extending the Deadline for Counties to Receive Absentee and Mail-In Ballots
In the near future, I will introduce legislation to give counties seven days following the election to receive and count mail-in and absentee ballots.

As a Commonwealth, we are making a collective effort to encourage people to vote by mail for the primary and general elections because of safety concerns related to Covid-19. To date, over one million Pennsylvanians have applied for mail-in ballots. However, the pandemic also is causing local U.S. Postal Service deliveries to arrive in an average of four to six days. It is unreasonable to expect those individuals who apply for mail-in ballots the week before the election to receive and verify counties physically receive them back within the span of one week. Additionally, the massive increase in mail-in ballots is going to be a trial by fire in many counties, where they anticipate and are beginning to receive a large influx of mail in ballots.
My legislation will extend the deadline by which counties may receive and count mail-in and absentee ballots to the same deadline used for voting by the military and those overseas.  The deadline for those ballots is 5:00 p.m. the seventh day following an election. This bill will create uniformity in how votes all mail in ballots are counted.  It also  provides counties with more time to process the massive influx of ballots coming in by mail.

Currently by statute, counties have up to seven days to collect and count military and overseas ballots because a delay in mail delivery may cause the ballot to arrive after election day through no fault of the voter. Counties should have seven days to receive absentee and mail-in ballots for the same reasons.  In both cases, ballots are dependent on the efficiency of the mail. Barriers of geography or an overwhelmed mail delivery system will prevent thousands of Pennsylvanians from having their ballots count if the deadline to receive them is when the polls close on election day. Right now, your vote only is protected in one of those cases. A voter could do everything asked of him or her to cast a vote, and it could be disregarded through no fault of the voter. This is unacceptable.  

Please join me in sponsoring this important legislation.