A majority of registered voters in the Delaware Valley support a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision allowing ballots that arrive in election offices three days after Election Day to be counted.
According to a new Delaware Valley Journal poll, 61 percent of respondents agreed with the idea that ballots postmarked by November 3 but arriving after Election Day should be counted, compared to 30 percent who disagreed. About 8 percent were undecided.
The DVJournal poll surveyed nearly 700 registered voters in the four suburban counties of Philadelphia and was conducted by Praecones Analytica between September 23-25.
The numbers closely mirror the results on the presidential head-to-head question, in which the vast majority of Delaware Valley residents are backing Democratic nominee Joe Biden over President Trump, 60 to 35 percent.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that ballots postmarked Nov. 3 but aren’t received until Nov. 6 must be counted. Republicans are mounting a last-minute challenge before the U.S. Supreme Court, contending the Pennsylvania court is re-writing existing state law.
Counting late ballots all but ensures the winner of the Pennsylvania election won’t be known on Election Day — and perhaps long after. Politicians, pundits and candidates have begun to worry that the state could wind up looking like Florida did in the 2000 election stalemate that was ultimately decided before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Because of the coronavirus outbreak, more Pennsylvanians voted by mail than ever before in the June primary, something that helped overwhelm county election offices to the point the election was not certified until weeks later.
Meanwhile, Gov. Wolf and lawmakers continue to battle over an election bill that has stalled.
The key provision of the bill would give counties the legal ability to begin processing mail-in ballots before Election Day, called precanvassing. Even though all sides agree adding more precanvassing time is necessary to complete the vote tally quickly, the two sides have yet to compromise on just how long that upfront time should be.
Chester County Democratic Chairman Dick Bingham said he was happy to see a majority in the DVJ poll in favor of the extended deadline, and said he feels it shows the Delaware Valley voters back the governor in his negotiations over the elections bill.
“My first reaction [to the poll results] is to encourage everyone using a mail-in ballot to return it as soon as they receive it,” Bingham told Delaware Valley Journal.
“Everyone should focus on returning their ballot promptly,” he said. “I would also remind everyone that there will be numerous drop box locations for returning their ballots, avoiding the postmark question altogether. However, if for some reason someone has not been able to return their ballot earlier, I certainly support the decision to count all mail-in ballots postmarked by November 3 and received by Voter Services by November 6.
“There is no reason to suppress any good faith effort to vote on Election Day, whether in person or by mail.”
Biden reiterated his support for counting late ballots during Tuesday night’s debate, saying, “it has to be postmarked by Election Day. If it doesn’t get in until the seventh, eighth, ninth [day], it still should be counted.”
“They’re sending millions of ballots all over the country,” Trump countered. “There’s fraud. They found them in creeks. They found some, just happened to have the name Trump just the other day in a wastepaper basket,” he said, referencing a recent controversy in Luzerne County.
But Trump’s efforts could be backfiring.
“Democratic voters who have requested mail ballots — and returned them — greatly outnumber Republicans so far in key battleground states, causing alarm among GOP party leaders and strategists that President Trump’s attacks on mail voting could be hurting the party’s prospects to retain the White House and the Senate this year,” the Washington Post reported Wednesday.
However, the Trump campaign in Pennsylvania told Delaware Valley Journal just last week that they have been encouraging Republican voters to request mail-in ballots and have been training voters all year long how to properly use the ballot and the security envelopes so the vote doesn’t become invalidated.
Update: A previous version of this article said precanvassing would allow counties to start counting ballots. Precanvassing only allows counties to begin processing those ballots. The article has been updated to reflect this.