Now, there is an election today, and the GOP’s desire to get rid of mail-in ballots may no longer exist. Republicans, in fact, seem to be shifting toward using mail-in ballots to their party’s advantage.
“I can’t tell you how many Republicans I’ve spoken to who are unexpectedly out of town and won’t be able to vote [on Tuesday],” Scott Presler, a conservative activist visiting Pennsylvania, posted on social media. “The ‘Election Day Only’ crowd is disenfranchising voters by telling them to only vote on one day. Life happens. We can’t make this mistake next year.”
Presler has encouraged Pennsylvanians to take advantage of mail-in and absentee voting, particularly in Bucks County. Democratic Commissioners Diane M. Ellis-Marseglia and Robert Harvie Jr. are seeking second terms. Pamela A. Van Blunk, currently serving as Bucks County Controller, is running as a team with Republican Gene DiGirolamo, who is seeking a second term.
Mail-in ballot statistics are down this year compared to 2022, which isn’t surprising for an odd-year election. Around 1.4 million Pennsylvania residents asked for a ballot, according to the Department of State. This year, it was just over one million applications, with more than 709,000 ballots accepted as of November 6. It is worth noting that the highest profile race this year is for state Supreme Court between Republican Carolyn Carluccio and Democrat Dan McCaffery. Last year, the John Fetterman-Mehmet Oz race for U.S. Senate garnered intense scrutiny from national media.
Statewide, the Republican Party’s focus seems to have shifted away from mail-in ballot opposition to full-on embrace.
“We still have a lot of work to do to get Republicans to embrace mail-in-voting,” Pennsylvania GOP Secretary Elizabeth Preate Havey told DVJournal. She expressed support for the BankYourVote campaign being run by the national Republican Party. The state GOP has also embraced that effort. “Although Democrats are far ahead in the mail-in ballot applications, 27 percent of Republican mail-in ballot applications came from low-propensity voters, which will add new votes on Election Day,” Havey said.
She is also focused on increasing in-person voting security.
“The GOP still wants voter ID at the polls,” said Havey. “A large majority of Pennsylvania voters agree with that position. You can’t buy cold medicine or get a bottle of wine at the supermarket in Pennsylvania without a (drivers) license; why don’t we require one when we vote?”
Voters seem to be interested in that issue. A Commonwealth Foundation poll found that 66 percent support legislation on voter identification. A previous voter ID law for Pennsylvania was struck down by the Commonwealth Court in 2014.
While the Pennsylvania Democratic Party declined to comment to DVJournal, Chester County Democrats said they support current election laws and oppose increased Voter ID requirements. They argue ID requirements disenfranchise voters of color.
“We have confidence in the integrity of elections in Chester County and the state,” said Bill Phifer, a spokesperson for the Chester County Democratic Committee. “We would, of course, like to see earlier canvassing of mail-in and absentee ballots to avoid some of the current delays in processing.
“We would suggest also that having drop boxes for mail-in ballots accessible 24/7, the same as post offices, would greatly increase voter participation,” Phifer said.
There are still problems with mail-in ballots in the Delaware Valley. Montgomery County elections officials said multiple ballots were either undated or not put into the secrecy envelope. Voters apparently made other mistakes that could have led to ballot rejection, including writing down birth dates on envelopes.
Delaware County reported around 600 mail-in ballots had problems. They are contacting voters to get them to fix the problems.
The city of Philadelphia’s Board of Elections put out four lists last week of mail-in ballots with problems. The list included outgoing Mayor Jim Kenney, who made an unknown error. That error has been corrected, according to Kenney’s office.
People can go to the Department of State’s website to make sure their ballots have been accepted. Those with issues should get a hold of their county elections office.
For those wanting to vote in-person, polls open Tuesday at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.