Pennsylvania's primary election is June 2, and officials want to make sure the coronavirus crisis doesn't prevent voters from exercising their fundamental democratic rights at the polls.
Gov. Tom Wolf says he is applying for a mail-in ballot. This week, he reminded registered voters that they can do the same.
County election offices will accept applications through 5 p.m. May 26. But don't push the deadline, the governor said.
“Our county elections offices are also coping with the Covid-19 pandemic," Wolf said Monday. "So, providing them with as much time as possible to process your application and get your ballot in the mail is a great way to thank them for their hard work.”
Lancaster County Chief Clerk of Elections Randall Wenger echoed Wolf's advice to be prompt. "Voters should not wait until the deadline to apply," he said. "Each application needs to be processed manually, and there is a finite number a county can process each day."
Wenger said Lancaster County had processed close to 37,000 mail-in ballot applications so far.
That's works out to about 13.5% of the 273,000 Lancaster County Republicans and Democrats who are eligible to participate in the primary. (Another 54,000 voters are excluded because they are registered third-party or independent.)
Statewide, close to 1 million voters had applied for mail-in ballots as of early this week, according to Pennsylvania Department of State figures.
Voters must return their filled-out ballots by 8 p.m. on Election Day.
If you are not registered to vote, you must do so by May 18 to be eligible for the primary.
Locally, voters can take advantage of Lancaster Votes, a nonpartisan initiative to increase registration and turnout. Visit its website to register, request a mail-in ballot, find your polling place and learn more about voting and voting rights.
You can also visit votesPA.com or call the Department of State's toll-free hotline, 1-877-VOTESPA.
Mail-in ballots are a new option in Pennsylvania. They were authorized by Act 77 of 2019.