State officials report smooth municipal election

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HARRISBURG—An hour after polling places closed, Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid reported that Tuesday’s municipal election in Pennsylvania ran smoothly and without major incident.

“Thanks to the hard work and professionalism of county election officials and poll workers, we didn’t see any major or widespread issues,” Degraffenreid said. “No-excuse mail-in voting remained a popular option among voters in this fourth election since it first became available in Pennsylvania.”

For this election, counties sent out more than 1,009,000 mail ballots – 89% of which were no-excuse mail-in ballots and 11% of which were absentee ballots.  As of mid-afternoon on Election Day, about 73% of the total number of mail ballots sent to voters had been returned to county boards of elections.

Department of State staff answered 788 telephone calls Tuesday via the commonwealth’s voter help line (1-877-VOTESPA).  Most callers had questions about their voter registration status, polling place location or mail-in ballots.

There were no widespread or unusual issues, but there were some of the same isolated issues that are seen in every election. For example, a few polling places did not open on time and there were several reports of electioneering inside polling places, such as campaign workers handing out materials.

One county – Montgomery County – filed a petition in the Court of Common Pleas to extend polling place hours by one hour in four precincts that opened late. And there was an e-pollbook issue in Lehigh County.

Because Pennsylvania election law currently does not permit the pre-canvassing of ballots before Election Day, as many other states do, counties were not able to begin mail-ballot counting until 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Degraffenreid said she expects that counties will have most ballots counted within a few days, but she noted that their first priority is always to accurately and securely count every vote.

For voters casting a ballot in person Tuesday, poll workers across Pennsylvania provided safe and secure polling places.

“I want to recognize and thank county election officials and poll workers for conducting another free, fair, and secure election during the continuing COVID-19 pandemic,” Degraffenreid said. “Election staff and volunteers deserve the gratitude and appreciation of all Pennsylvanians for their hard work, extraordinary efforts, and steadfast commitment to ensuring that their fellow citizens can safely exercise their precious right to vote.”