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Officials Urge Use of Drop Boxes, Not Mail, As Ballots Continue to Arrive

October 29, 2020

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Larry R. King, 215-348-6413, lrking@buckscounty.org

State elections officials on Wednesday urged Pennsylvania voters who have not yet returned their mail-in or absentee ballots to do so in person if possible.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar told reporters that voters should avoid using the U.S. Postal Service to return their ballots at this late date. Voters instead should hand-deliver them to county elections offices or use drop boxes to ensure that their ballots are received in time to be counted. kathy boockvar 10.9.2020

“Put it in overnight mail to your county election office if you have to,” Boockvar said, “but we really recommend that you drop it off in person.”

Boockvar’s alert has taken on more urgency amid concerns that the U.S. Supreme Court might act after the election to invalidate any Pennsylvania mail-in or absentee ballots received after 8 p.m. Election Day.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that ballots postmarked by Nov. 3, or that bear no legible postmark, may be accepted and counted if they arrive by no later than 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 6.

Republicans have been pushing for the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn that state ruling. So far, the high court has not done so, but has left the door open to revisit the issue after Election Day.

A reversal of the state court ruling could mean invalidation of any ballots received after 8 p.m. Nov. 3. As a precaution, the Pennsylvania Department of State has advised county elections offices to segregate any ballots received after that time from those received before polls close on Election Day.

Last week, a 4-to-4 deadlock in the U.S. Supreme Court thwarted Republicans’ request for an emergency stay of the state decision to accept ballots after Election Day. On Wednesday, the high court said it did not have time to consider the merits of the dispute prior to the election, but did not rule out taking up the matter after Election Day.

As of Wednesday night, Bucks County had received back 115,020, or about 58 percent, of the 198,364 mail-in and absentee ballots distributed to voters via the mail or as on-demand ballots printed at county elections offices. voting 10.29.2020

The number of ballots received so far represents 24 percent of all registered voters in the county, and is expected to increase.

Short lines continued to form as voters deposited their ballots Tuesday at county drop boxes in Doylestown, Levittown and Quakertown, which have extended and weekend hours through Election Day.

Of those who have returned absentee or mail-in ballots, 72,104 are registered Democrats (63 percent), 28,225 are Republicans (24 percent) and 14,691 (13 percent) have other or no affiliations.

A record number of Pennsylvanians – more than 9 million – have registered to vote in this election. Bucks County’s registered voters have also reached record levels, with the county rolls having grown by 24,855 voters since the primary election in June to a total of 488,010.

For those intending to vote in person at the county’s 304 voting precincts, the county has issued safety guidelines for polling places, mandating that social distancing be maintained, face coverings be worn and protective measures be taken to limit any spread of COVID-19 at the polls. The order includes protocols for accommodating voters who do not have masks, or refuse to wear them, so that their right to vote is preserved.

All polling places will be well-stocked with hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and Plexiglas barriers to help protect voters and poll workers.

Boockvar and Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Rachel Levine today added that poll workers, county officials and authorized observers across the state must wear face coverings in polling places and when interacting with voters in line outside. Those who flout the masking order will be removed, they said.

“It is essential that everyone who is headed to a polling place to vote on Election Day wear a mask that properly covers their nose and mouth,” Levine said. The state’s full guidance is available here.

Said Boockvar: “By following just a few simple steps, we can all make sure that we are keeping each other safe while exercising our constitutional rights.”

Voters are encouraged to check the frequently asked questions section of the county’s 2020 General Election Portal to see if their question has already been answered before calling the Board of Elections with questions.

Learn more at www.buckscounty.org/2020election   .