Absentee Ballot in Pennsylvania: When Messy is an Understatement!

A lot of issues are arising for the upcoming US elections with the rising trend of the Coronavirus pandemic. Among those, the absentee ballot in Pennsylvania is one of them.

Pennsylvania State Map
Pennsylvania State Map

Amid the rise of COVID-19 and United States general elections due in November, tension is increasing with each passing day.

The United States is considering the option of mail and absentee voting in the general elections that would allow every eligible voter to vote by mail. Many states have used this option in primary elections, but unfortunately, it has often resulted in a disaster that has established some severe concerns about the presidential elections.

Pennsylvania has also used this option and allowed its voters to apply online for absentee ballots. This article will highlight the situation caused by absentee ballots in Pennsylvania.

Like many other states, Pennsylvania allowed its registered voters to apply for mail-in ballots.

In the past, an absentee ballot could be applied for by some specific voters, including members of the military, voters with medical situations, or another substantial reason.

Due to the present conditions caused by COVID-19, the Department of State has allowed no-excuse absentee voting, during which every voter can apply to vote by mail.

These ballots by mail will reduce the chances of the spread of COVID-19.

The voters can receive ballots through the postal services and can send the completed ballot back through the same process.

After the Department of State authorized the no-excuse absentee ballot in Pennsylvania, there was a considerable increase in the number of registered voters preferring to vote by absentee ballots.

Nearly 1.5 million ballot applications were received, which is seventeen times higher than the absentee voters in 2016.

Due to the absentee ballot in Pennsylvania, the voter turnout was also much greater than expected.

The date of the primary elections was changed from April to June, caused by the spread of COVID-19 and curfew restrictions that were imposed after protests erupted to condemn the death of George Floyd.

Absentee ballot in Pennsylvania Envelope
Pennsylvania Absentee Ballot Official Envelope

This considerable increase in the number of absentee ballots in Pennsylvania in the primary election demanded some serious efforts from state and county election offices. Staff was recruited and trained to meet the challenge.

The absentee ballot in Pennsylvania came out as a real nightmare for the state and county election offices.

Although more poll workers were recruited and trained to meet the challenge, it was still difficult for them to manage such a huge number of mail and absentee ballots.

According to the npr report, nearly 555,000 absentee ballots in Pennsylvania were rejected, far outpacing 2016.

The rejection took place for a variety of reasons, with the most common of them being invalid signatures. According to the Department of State, many ballots were invalidated as the signatures on the ballot did not match the ballot request list. The department is currently facing a lawsuit on this issue. The suit is filed by the League of Women Voters in Pennsylvania, League of United Latin American Citizens Council, Urban League of Greater Pittsburg, and two other individual clients. 

They claim that there are a number of reasons due to which the signatures could not match, and election officials could have confirmed from the voters about it.

Additionally, a considerable number of mail and absentee ballots were rejected because of arriving late. Many ballots failed to be delivered by 8 pm on Election Day, and so were rejected by the election office.

Many registered voters also claimed that they received their ballots later than the due date, and many did not receive them at all.



Pennsylvania is a crucial state for the Presidential election due in November.

In 2016, the state provided President Trump with the electorates needed to win the race.

Issues of absentee ballots in Pennsylvania have established serious concerns about using the option of mail-in and absentee ballots in November.

The postal service has already falsely claimed that it may not be able to manage such a huge workload while they have handled more load before.

President Trump has repeatedly falsely claimed that mail-in ballots are a serious threat to democracy in America, and, after looking at the situation in the primary election in many states, voters are worried about the future of the country.

The need is to consider other options, and if no others are available, then additional poll workers should be trained to handle such work. Also, more funding should be given to the postal office as an aid to help them manage the millions of mail-in ballots in November.

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