HARRISBURG – With today’s midterm election underway, Acting Secretary of State Leigh M. Chapman reminds Pennsylvanians that the Department of State’s election night returns website offers up-to-the-minute results.
“Voters, candidates and the media can find the most complete picture of how Pennsylvanians voted on our election returns site,” Chapman said. “We collaborate with all 67 county election offices to consolidate results as soon as they are available.”
Unlike most other states, Pennsylvania’s election laws do not permit the pre-canvassing of ballots until 7 a.m. on Election Day, so counties cannot begin counting mail ballots until that time. More than 1.4 million Pennsylvania voters requested a mail ballot, and the overwhelming majority of all ballots will be counted within a few days after the election. Some ballots, like those received from military and overseas civilian voters, will be counted up to eight days after Election Day.
Visitors to electionreturns.pa.gov can customize searches, receive timely updates, view results on mobile devices, use a location-based service through the “My County” link to instantly bring up their county’s election returns and connect to each county’s election results website. The department’s site will also break out mail ballot totals as counties report them.
Chapman advised that the election returns site will not include the Act 88 county reports that are a new requirement for the 63 counties that accepted Election Integrity Grants.
Act 88 requires that, by 12:01 a.m. Nov. 9, counties that accepted the grant funds must on their county elections website indicate how many mail ballots they received for the Nov. 8 election. This count is the number of ballots received by the county, not the votes resulting from those ballots. The requirement does not mean counties must have all mail ballot votes tallied and computed by that time. Instead, what they are required to report at that time is how many mail ballots they received by the 8 p.m. deadline.
“Act 88 did not do the one thing that would have had the biggest impact on allowing Pennsylvania to have results sooner, and that is provide for meaningful pre-canvassing before Election Day,” Chapman said. “As a result, we must again ask for patience. Election workers must be given a reasonable amount of time to do their jobs thoroughly. Unofficial results will be available within a few days of the election, and it’s critically important for everyone to understand that this delay does not mean anything nefarious is happening. An accurate count of all eligible votes is paramount, and it cannot be rushed.”
Chapman reminded Pennsylvanians who are voting by mail-in or absentee ballot to return their voted ballot in person to their county election board or to an official ballot drop-off location by 8 p.m. Tuesday. The deadline for county election boards to receive voted mail ballots is 8 p.m. Nov. 8, Election Day. A postmark by that time does not count.
Voters who are returning their completed mail ballots are also urged to sign and date the voter’s declaration on the outer envelope to ensure their vote will be counted.
Voters who have not voted by mail ballot can vote in person at their polling place on Election Day. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Nov. 8.
Voters who applied for and received a mail ballot and then decide they want to vote at the polls must bring their mail ballot packet with them to be voided, including the unvoted mail ballot and the outer return envelope with the voter’s declaration.
If a voter applied for a mail ballot but did not return it and no longer has the mail ballot and outer envelope, they may vote by provisional ballot at their polling place on Election Day. Their county board of elections will then verify that they did not vote by mail before counting their provisional ballot.
If a voter applied for a mail ballot but never received it, they should vote by provisional ballot at their polling place on Election Day. Their county board of elections will then verify that they did not vote by mail before counting their provisional ballot.
On Nov. 8, Pennsylvania voters will elect a new governor and lieutenant governor and U.S. Senator, as well as all the state’s 17 congressional representatives, 25 of its 50 state senators and all 203 state House members.
For more information on voting in Pennsylvania, visit vote.pa.gov, call the Department of State’s year-round hotline at 1-877-VOTESPA (877-868-3772), or follow #ReadyToVotePA on social media.