HARRISBURG – An hour after polling places in 66 counties closed, Acting Secretary of State Leigh M. Chapman reported that today’s midterm primary election in Pennsylvania was successful, with more than 646,000 mail-in ballots already received by midday.
“County and state election officials deserve a lot of credit for administering an election during an unprecedented redistricting cycle,” Chapman said. “I’m proud of them and every voter who cast a ballot in this election. We saw democracy in action today in Pennsylvania.”
“We also witnessed the continuing popularity of mail voting in the commonwealth,” Chapman noted.
Counties received about 900,000 mail ballot applications for the primary – nearly 800,000 applications for no-excuse mail-in ballots and 100,000 applications for absentee ballots. Voters had returned nearly 70 percent of those mail ballots as of this morning, with the deadline to submit them at 8 p.m. tonight.
Department of State staff answered more than 1,100 calls today 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.
Two counties reported localized issues. In Berks County, at least two dozen polling places were impacted by long lines as a result of problems with new electronic pollbooks. A court order extended voting in Berks County an hour until 9 p.m.
In Lancaster County, county election officials were unable to scan about 22,000 mail ballots because of incorrect codes on the ballots. The county will duplicate those ballots by hand and then scan them over the next few days.
The Department offered its assistance to both counties as they resolved those issues.
As unofficial election results become available from counties, they will be posted on the department’s elections return site at electionreturns.pa.gov. The site provides statewide totals and county-by-county breakdowns of each race by votes cast at polling places on Election Day, votes cast by mail ballot and votes cast by provisional ballot.
Because Pennsylvania’s election laws do 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. this morning. Chapman said she expects that counties will have the majority of ballots counted within a few days.
“I want to thank county election officials and poll workers for conducting another free, fair, and secure election, and voters for turning out to do their part,” Chapman said. “Now I ask everyone to be patient as counties continue the process of accurately and securely counting every vote.”