WEST CHESTER (March 18, 2020) – Voters concerned about the impacts of COVID-19 on the upcoming Pennsylvania Primary Election should apply now for a mail-in ballot at votespa.com, state Senator Andy Dinniman said.
This marks the first year that Pennsylvanians can vote by mail without a reason (also known as “no-excuse absentee voting”). Voters can apply for mail-in ballots online or by mail via applications available at www.votespa.com.
For voters who plan on using a mail-in ballot in the Primary Election (currently scheduled for Tuesday, April 28) completed applications must be received in the county office by 5:00 p.m. on April 21. The deadline to return voted absentee or mail-in ballot is 8:00 p.m. on April 28.
“I know many voters are rightfully concerned about public health and the upcoming primary election. I encourage you to consider applying for a mail-in ballot,” Dinniman said. “Please do not wait until the deadline because there are concerns that an influx of applications at the last minute could negatively impact the system.”
Dinniman also emphasized that Governor Tom Wolf recently said that Pennsylvania may consider delaying the primary due to the coronavirus pandemic. Wolf said his administration is currently considering that and other possibilities in conjunction with discussions with officials at the Pennsylvania Department of State and Pennsylvania Department of Health.
The Pennsylvania Department of State released the following statement to the media:
“The Department of State is having comprehensive discussions about a range of potential options for the April primary election. Those discussions are being held in consultation with the Department of Health, the governor’s office, the legislature and the counties. Our focus is on best ways to protect the integrity of the election while safeguarding public health. We will immediately notify the public if there are to be any changes in primary or special-election voting. In the meantime, we remind Pennsylvania voters that the new mail-in ballot option provides a valuable alternative and can be used for any reason or no reason at all.”
In addition, Dinniman noted that while his and many other state legislative offices remain temporarily close to the public due to COVID-19 concerns, state government is continuing to operate with many employees working remotely or from home.
That includes legislative operations with the Pennsylvania House yesterday passing temporary rules that allow members to vote remotely.
The state Senate is in session today to pass changes to rules to allow members to vote remotely. Dinniman said he plans to utilize the remote voting system once it is in place.
“It is crucial that residents know and understand that state government continues to operate and we’re streamlining procedures and updating legislative rules to address this unprecedented public health emergency,” Dinniman said. “The focus will be on passing legislation to slow the spread of the virus and address its significant impacts on healthcare, education, the economy, small business, transportation, and nearly every aspect of our daily lives.”
We will get through but we need to act quickly and we must do so with transparency and openness,” he added.