Tom Gralish / Philadelphia Inquirer
Pa. Secretary of State on midterm election
Airdate: Thursday, October 20, 2022
We’ve heard it many times – the next election is the most important one of our lifetimes. That may be only measured by history because every election has consequences. Elections themselves have become part of the ongoing partisan battle in our polarized society. The mid-term election is set for less than three weeks from now. As before any election, there information voters should know.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court avoided a decision by the third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that required Pennsylvania to count mail in ballots that were previously rejected for lacking handwritten dates next to the voters declaration signatures on the outside of the ballot envelopes. The Wolf administration has said the high court decision does not affect a separate previous ruling by state Commonwealth Court in favor of counting ballots without properly dated exterior envelopes.
Pennsylvania’s Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman appeared on Thursday’s Smart Talk and explained why counties should count undated mail-in ballots,”Earlier this year, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania issued a ruling saying that ballots that lack a handwritten date on the outer envelope should count because they’re immaterial to whether or not a ballot was received timely. So in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, we have 67 counties and counties actually record when ballots are received into that county, they timestamp it, they record it. So even though those most ballots lack a handwritten date. Counties still know that they’re timely received. And these are ballots from eligible voters. So after that Commonwealth Court decision, you know, we issued guidance to counties saying that those ballots, that lack a handwritten date should count. You know, that Supreme Court case was procedural. Nothing changed.”
Chapman was asked if counting undated ballots after the Supreme Court ruling will confuse voters and counties,”There is confusion, right? And when there’s litigation brought so close to the election, we’re 19 days out. That is also something that creates confusion. So I understand. And mail in voting in particular is a newer culture here in Pennsylvania. Well, other states have had it for decades. We’ve only had it since 2019. And one thing that we are doing at the Department of State is we have a comprehensive voter education campaign. So voters know the rules on how to register to vote, cast their ballot and ensure that it’s counted in Pennsylvania. And we are meeting voters where they are. We are sending emails, text messages. We have a social media campaign. We have ads on the turnpike, in doctor’s offices and in cabs. You know all about voter education. And we are doing that in urban areas, rural areas, through various methods on radio for people who don’t have Internet access. So for us, the best way to counter any confusion, any myths or disinformation about the electoral process in Pennsylvania is to really provide accurate information to voters about how to cast a ballot and ensure that it’s counted here in Pennsylvania.”
Pennsylvania have until October 24 to register to vote and until November 1 to apply for a mail-in ballot.
WITF’s election coverage is supported by the law firm of Saul, Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP.