(Harrisburg, PA) Today marks less than a week before the June 2 primary election. The Pennsylvania Election Protection Coalition is urging any voter who plans to vote by mail but has not yet sent the ballot back to mail it immediately or drop it off at locations designated by their county instead.
Voters who have questions or problems voting, either by mail or in-person, should call the nonpartisan “Election Protection Hotline” where volunteers will be able to answer their questions. English-speaking voters can call 866-OUR-VOTE for assistance now between 10am and 6pm, and between 7am and 8pm on June 2. Help is also available in Spanish (888-VE-Y-VOTA), Arabic (844-YALLA-US) and Asian languages (888-API-VOTE).
Election Protection in Pennsylvania is led by a core group of organizations, including Common Cause Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Voice, ACLU of Pennsylvania, the Pitt Institute for Cyber Law, Policy, and Security (Pitt Cyber), All Voting is Local, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Fair Elections Center.
“Every voter should make sure their voice is heard. In Pennsylvania, ballots that are received late won’t be counted. Ballots need to be at your county elections office before 8 p.m. on election day,” said Suzanne Almeida, interim Executive Director of Common Cause Pennsylvania. Voters can find the address of their local elections office at www.votesPA.com, the Pennsylvania Department of State’s voter education website.
The deadline for requesting a mail ballot has already passed. Voters who have not yet received their absentee or mail in ballot should track the status of their by-mail ballots on the state’s website at https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/Pages/BallotTracking.aspx.
The Election Protection Coalition is urging voters planning to vote in-person to check their polling place location before heading out to vote, as many polling places have been moved or consolidated due to the pandemic. We recommend that voters check their polling place at www.votesPA.com or their county elections office website.
The coalition is also asking in-person voters to follow CDC guidelines when heading to the polls. Voters should wear a mask, bring their own black pen, and be prepared to wait in line while observing social distancing guidelines.
On June 2, trained election protection volunteers, led by Common Cause, will be monitoring polling places in Philadelphia and the collar counties in southeast Pennsylvania, Allegheny County, and targeted polling places in the center of the state to ensure voter access to the polls. While they work, these volunteers will be observing social distancing guidelines and current CDC and Pennsylvania Department of Health guidelines.
The coalition stressed that mail ballots are a safe and secure way to vote. Checks on the validity of ballots include signature matching, address matching, and confirmation that one ballot is received per voter.
“There are numerous fail-safes to make sure that the votes are valid,” said Sara Mullen, associate director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “And because mailed ballots are paper ballots, they are available for an election audit or recount.”
“For the first time, there will be more votes cast by mail than in person,” says Ray Murphy, deputy director of Pennsylvania Voice. “Unless the legislature allows ballots to be processed secretly before Election Day, this means that we can’t count on knowing the results on Election Night.”
The voter assistance telephone hotlines are available now, although voters may need to leave a message and wait for a callback. The suite of voter hotlines is administered by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and managed by the Election Protection Coalition that is made up of more than 100 local, state and national partners.
Voters interested in learning more about election protection can visit the Common Cause website at https://www.commoncause.org/pennsylvania/election-protection/