Voting By Mail In PA? It Will Count! - Paycheck

Voting By Mail In PA? It Will Count!

A pandemic, a presidential election in which passions run extraordinarily high, and a still-unfamiliar process for voting:  what could possibly go wrong?

As it turns out, a few things, perhaps:  a number of states, Pennsylvania among them, for the first time allow widespread mail voting this year, and how quickly those votes were counted varied considerably from place to place.

That’s not the best way to make the public feel confident.

Still, with everything from college football to major fund-raising events for charities on hold this fall, it seems likely that a majority of votes cast in November will be delivered by mail.

There is some concern as well that changes in procedures at the Postal Service—changes that could probably have been better timed—that could slow the delivery of mail-in votes.

A bipartisan national effort led by former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge is working to ensure voters know how vote safely and securely, whether in person or by mail.

Former state House Majority Leader Dave Reed is leading that drive in Pennsylvania, along with a group that includes every former Pennsylvania governor and a wide range of Democratic and Republican leaders.

I spoke to Reed recently about his organization’s goals.  “The key, really, is educating the public.  The people voting by mail need to know how to apply and what the deadlines are; people voting in person and the election workers who will spend the day at a polling place need to know how to do so while protecting the health of the public.”

The former lawmaker indicated that there might well be desirable changes in the law to make procedures clearer, but said that advocating for those mostly technical adjustments is not a focus of his organization.

“Above all, the public needs to know that they can vote safely, and that their vote will be counted—and our goal is to do that by making sure Pennsylvania voters have accurate information about how they can vote, and then to trust them to make the choice with which they are most comfortable, just as we trust them to make a choice between candidates in every election.”

At a time when the country is on edge and the extent of Covid-19 in the weeks before Election Day completely unknown, with both understandable confusion and willful misinformation readily available and conspiracy theories only a few clicks away, achieving that would be no small thing.

Michael O'Connell

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