On Monday, Philadelphia City Commissioners’ Chairwoman Lisa Deeley called on the governor and the State Legislature to act and extend the deadline to return voted ballots to the Board of Elections. Currently, voted ballots must be received by the Board of Elections by 8pm on Election Day, June 2.
Deeley requests that — due to the unprecedented circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting increase in the number of applications from voters requesting to vote from home — the deadline for the County Boards of Elections to receive voted ballots be extended to June 9 and that all voted ballots received by that date and postmarked by June 2 be accepted. June 9 is the current deadline to receive military and overseas absentee ballots and the postmark requirement is the same as what the courts granted to the voters of Wisconsin.
Deeley would like the state to act well ahead of the last-minute lawsuits that were seen in Wisconsin and Ohio, which confused voters with ever changing information.
“The Courts have been clear, they would prefer that Governors and Legislatures act to prevent these matters from coming before them,” she said. “This is a bipartisan issue. Both the Democratic and Republican parties have been encouraging their voters to apply for the new, no-excuse mail-in ballots. Our office continues to encourage voters to vote from home. Our staff and elections’ staff all around the state are working hard every day to process the mountain of applications we are receiving.”
“But, the rules were not designed to handle 10 times the number of applications that we typically see in a presidential general election,” Deeley continued. “Our leaders in Harrisburg need to do the responsible thing and update the rules for this primary to reflect our new reality. We do not want to be Wisconsin and we do not want the courts to have to step in.”
Deeley is also encouraging Philadelphia voters to apply now for a mail-in ballot and not to wait until the deadline.
“We always tell voters to not wait until the last minute to apply because of the tight turnaround in the deadlines,” she said. “But this year, given the expected number of applications, combined with the uncertainty in funding for the Postal Service, voters should not wait and should apply right now. The closer we get to the deadline, the more applications county elections offices receive. We need to ensure that the staff who process the applications are not overwhelmed by a flood of last-minute submissions and can send the ballots out in a timely manner.”
The staff of the Philadelphia Board of Elections are being reassigned and a greater number of staff are being brought back to work to process the increased number of absentee and mail-in ballot applications.
As of last Monday, Philadelphia had processed 36,268 applications and 10,068 applications are awaiting processing. The staff processed 7,246 applications the previous weekend. For comparison purposes, the board received 16,101 applications for the 2012 general election, 15,887 for the 2016 general election, and 5,742 for the 2016 primary election.
Voters can apply for a no-excuse mail-in ballot by going to www.apps.PhiladelphiaVotes.com. The deadline to apply is May 26 and ballots must be returned to the Board by 8pm on June 2. The primary election is scheduled for June 2.