East Falls NOW Article: Voting by Mail-in Ballot- Important Update

By the first Monday in February, county boards of elections (AKA City Commissioners in Philadelphia) were to have sent via the USPS, mail-in ballot applications to any eligible voter who requested to be placed on the ‘permanent mail-in ballot list file.’

You would be on this list if you checked the box that stated I would like to receive mail-in ballots this year and receive annual applications for mail-in ballots each year when you applied in 2020 for a mail in ballot.

I checked that particular box, and as of this writing, I have not yet received this application.  As we know, the U.S. Postal Service has had its share of challenges. Instead, I have signed up electronically to receive my mail-in ballot and I urge you to do the same. VotesPA.com will take you to the mail-in ballot application. If you want to receive a mail-in ballot for the general election as well, you can check that box on the application. If you prefer to wait and see whether or not you want to request a mail-in ballot for the general election you can apply again in the late summer or early fall.

The deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot for the primary is May 11. No one should apply that late as the ballot then needs to be mailed to you. You then need to complete it and return it no later than 8 p.m. on Tuesday, May 18.

There has been much discussion about the use of mail-in ballots. Forty-three states and the District of Columbia use some form of early voting, including mail-in voting. Some states vote by mail-in ballot EXCLUSIVELY and have for years. 

Legislation has been introduced in the PA General Assembly to repeal the bill that enacted mail-in ballots. This is a bad idea for so many, many reasons, the least of which being that Act 77 of 2019 was the first major update to our election code since 1937. We have a larger population than we did in 1937 and expecting our entire eligible voting population to be accommodated in the 13-hour window on Election Day is unreasonable. Our lifestyles are different than 83 years ago; citizens work 10 and 12 hour shifts, multiple jobs and often work far from home. Last year’s elections clearly demonstrated that mail-in ballots expanded the opportunity for citizens to vote and this expansion was long overdue. Of note is the fact that over 70% of registered Pennsylvania voters participated in the 2020 General Election.

Last year the General Assembly refused to put in place the necessary supports for mail-in voting. Those supports include allowing drop boxes to be utilized and permitting the mail-in ballots to be PREPARED (not counted) for counting earlier than Election Day.  The General Assembly should be focused on making this process smoother and giving citizens the confidence that this is a valid manner to exercise our most important civic responsibility.

As always, I am interested in hearing your thoughts, ideas and concerns. Please email me at RepDeLissio@pahouse.net or call my office at 215-482-8726. You are also invited to join me at my 104th town hall meeting on Friday, March 19 at 10:30 a.m. The town hall will be via Zoom and livestreamed on Facebook @RepDeLissio.