HARRISBURG, Pa. — The latest Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling will allow ballots to be counted if they are postmarked by November 3rd and received within three days after Election Day. That has county election officials preparing for what could be a long election week.
"It's always been Election Day," said Dauphin County Commissioner Mike Pries. "But with the [PA] Supreme Court decision it will be election week."
Pries says, the county is expecting upwards of 80,000 mail in ballots this election. So far, the county has received 45,000 mail-in ballot applications. If November 3rd is anything like the June 2nd primary, more people will vote by mail in the county than in person. On the June 2nd primary, 40,000 people voted by mail-in ballot and 31,000 people voted in person. The last mail-in ballot/absentee record was in 2004, when the county received 7,000 absentee ballots.
"We certainly want to count all votes but it's going to delay calculating the results," said Pries.
Lebanon County is also expecting 35,000 people to vote by mail this election. So far, 14,000 mail-in ballot applications have been requested which is higher than the 13,000 people who voted by mail in the June 2nd primary. Typically, Lebanon County received about 4,000 absentee ballots.
"I think spotlight will be on election offices," said Lebanon County Director of Elections Michael Anderson.
Anderson hopes people will understand delayed results do not mean there is any less integrity or accuracy in the election, but encourages voters to get their mail-in ballots in as soon as possible.
"Once you get your ballot," said Anderson. "Fill it out, mail it in and get it to us."
With the change in accepting mail-in ballots after Election Day Pennsylvania joins a number of other states which also accept ballots after Election Day:
- Alaska - 10 days after Election Day
- California - 2 days after Election Day
- District of Columbia - 7 days after Election Day
- Illinois - 14 days after Election Day
- Iowa - 6 days after Election Day
- Kansas - 3 days after Election Day
- Nevada - 7 days after Election Day with clear postmarked date. 3 days after Election Day with unclear postmarked date
- New Jersey - 48 hours after polls close on Election Day
- North Carolina - 3 days after Election Day
- Ohio - 10 days after Election Day
- Utah - 7-14 days after the election (by county canvass date) if postmarked by the day before the election.
- Virginia - 3days after Election Day (by noon)
The following states require no-excuse absentee voting ballots to be received on Election Day:
- New Mexico
- North Dakota - day before Election Day
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota