Pa. lets voters apply online to vote absentee

  • Emily Previti/PA Post

PA Post launched one year ago today. We’ll have a special edition of The Context out later today to commemorate the milestone. But we wanted to take the opportunity, first thing, to thank you for giving us your time, attention and support during the past 12 months. Feedback, too — please keep your tips, questions, story ideas, etc., coming via email, phone, Twitter DM, etc. Also, please encourage your friends and family to sign up for The Context.  -Emily Previti, Newsletter Producer/Reporter

But change doesn’t address state’s tight return deadline

Mel Evans / AP Photo

Computer mouse pads with Secure the Vote logo on them are seen on a vendor’s table at a convention of state secretaries of state Saturday, July 14, 2018, in Philadelphia.

  • Pennsylvanians can go online to apply to vote absentee for the 2019 general election starting next week. The service is expected to be expanded to military and overseas voters next year, the Associated Press reports.

  • Just two other states currently offer electronic absentee ballot applications, according to Vote.org: California and Virginia. Many states are moving to all-mail elections, which  eliminate the demand for most absentee ballots. Here’s a list of vote-by-mail states, courtesy NCSL.

  • Adding the online option in Pa. doesn’t do much to address issues at the root of a lawsuit over the state’s absentee ballot system. That case focuses on the tight time frame between when voters receive their ballots and the return deadline. Plaintiffs allege the turnaround time is too short — to the point that some said they didn’t receive their absentee ballot until after it was due to be returned, according to the complaint. Pa. has the tightest turnaround in the nation, according to our analysis of states’ info compiled by Vote.org.

  • Digital applications won’t help every applicant because the submission deadline is the same as the last possible receipt date for mailed (putting aside exceptions for overseas military personnel) or in-person applications.

  • As for the status of that lawsuit: Attorneys on the case await a decision from Commonwealth Court on whether to dismiss the case or let it go to trial. Read about proceedings in Philadelphia earlier this summer, courtesy of Naomi Brauner’s coverage for Keystone Crossroads.

Best of the rest

Bastiaan Slabbers / for WHYY

In this file photo, people at a community meeting in Abington, Pa. on April 15, 2019 got an update of where the state will test drinking water for levels of the toxic family of chemicals known as PFAS.

  • Fort Indiantown Gap has been added to the list of sites with PFAS contamination, Brett Sholtis reports for StateImpact Pennsylvania. Testing water sources for the toxic chemicals has ramped up since they were detected in Philadelphia suburbs near military bases more than a year ago.

  • Bike lanes usually are added to roads so that cyclists are riding a relatively narrow strip between parked cars and moving traffic. It’s not the safest setup. So, Pittsburgh cyclists pedaled a mile-long stretch over the weekend to show what a better design would look like. Details on the demo and related legislation being pushed by one Pittsburgh state representative are in the Post-Gazette story at this link.

  • Farmers want lawmakers’ help with a litany of issues. Chief among them: expanding access to broadband internet access and stopping trespassers from entering private farmland. WITF’s Rachel McDevit talked to farmers for this story ahead of state legislators’ return to Harrisgburg next week for the fall session.

  • Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is joining nearly every other state attorney general to launch an antitrust investigation into Google. The point man on the effort is the conservative AG from Texas, Ken Paxton.

  • The Philadelphia Inquirer checked in with Joe Sestak during a quick return home for the former Pa. congressman who’s now running for president in a very crowded Democratic field. A favorite quote from Julia Terruso’s piece: “‘I need to pop from 1 to 3%,’ Sestak told The Inquirer. ‘Then you get into a more credible space. That’s where (Andrew) Yang is.'”


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