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Pennsylvania Secretary of State reminds voters possible delays in election results are typical

“It's really important for us to get accurate information about the election process in Pennsylvania."

  • Hayden Mitman/WLVR
Election workers prepare for voters at the polling place located in the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021.

 Matt Rourke / AP Photo

Election workers prepare for voters at the polling place located in the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021.

Leigh M. Chapman, Pennsylvania’s acting secretary of state, detailed how the state will handle vote counting in the upcoming election and said it will likely take several days until results are complete and certified. Final results traditionally take days if not weeks to compile.

Chapman held a virtual news conference which she said was an effort to prevent the spread of misinformation as the Nov. 8 election day approaches.

  • There will possibly be a delay in reporting election results given that Pennsylvania does not allow pre-canvassing of mail-in ballots
  • The state is working with the FBI and U.S. Department of Homeland Security following reports of threats on Pennsylvania’s elections
  • Voters are encouraged to return mail-in ballots as soon as possible

“It’s really important for us to get accurate information about the election process in Pennsylvania,” Chapman said. “So voters and the public know that when there are delays in counting, it doesn’t mean that there’s anything nefarious happening. It’s just what the law is in Pennsylvania.”

Cecelia Peterson, the majority inspector for the Cranberry West 5 voting precinct, left, and clerk Fred Peterson set up some of the folding voting booth dividers in one of the rooms in the Cranberry Township Municipal Center that will be used for voting in Tuesday's Pennsylvania Primary Election, Monday, May 16, 2022, in Cranberry Township, Butler County, Pa.

Keith Srakocic / AP Photo

Cecelia Peterson, the majority inspector for the Cranberry West 5 voting precinct, left, and clerk Fred Peterson set up some of the folding voting booth dividers in one of the rooms in the Cranberry Township Municipal Center that will be used for voting in Tuesday’s Pennsylvania Primary Election, Monday, May 16, 2022, in Cranberry Township, Butler County, Pa.

She said that because poll workers can’t pre-canvas or count mail-in ballots before election day, there will likely be delays in getting complete results posted.

Chapman also discussed a pair of concerns that she believes stem from the spread of misinformation: threats to interrupt voting and calls to delay the sending of mail-in ballots.

While she didn’t detail a specific incident, Chapman said there have been reports of threats aimed at the voting process throughout the state. She promised that her office has worked to investigate any threat made toward a free and fair election.

“Since I’ve been in office in January, we have constantly met with the FBI and Homeland Security just to talk through what the current threat landscape is and tools that we can give our counties to make sure that they have physical security protection as well as cyber security protection,” she said.

“So it’s been great to partner with both the federal and state law enforcement organizations. We are in constant communication with them and it’s a situation that we are monitoring,” Chapman added.

Polling judge Frank Kosek, right, Elaine Rhone, left, guide her ballot into a voting machine during the Pennsylvania primary election, at Mont Alto United Methodist Church in Alto, Pa., on May 17, 2022. (AP Photo/ Carolyn Kaster, File)

When asked about a recent push of Republican messaging that urges voters to hold onto their mail-in ballots instead of mailing them or placing them in an election drop box, and to turn them into their local board of elections on election day, Chapman said the practice could cause voters to become disenfranchised.

“We have heard that there’s messaging out there in Pennsylvania, as far as instructing voters to hold onto their mail-in ballots,” she said. “As part of our voter education campaign, we encourage voters to request that mail-in ballot now and return it as soon as possible. We don’t want voters to delay.”

She said counties need to receive mail-in ballots by 8 p.m. on election day, so voters using mail-in ballots are encouraged to return them as soon as they can to ensure counties have those votes in hand.

Chapman pointed out that so far, more than 1.2 million mail-in ballots have been requested across Pennsylvania, and 43%, or more than 556,000, have been returned.

In Lehigh County, a recent court case found that the county can — and will — use election drop boxes for mail-in ballots.

The case had received national attention, as the result could have had implications for how these drop boxes were deployed throughout the state.

But the ruling found that the boxes should be made available for voters to use freely and to make it as easy as possible for voting.

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