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League of Women Voters hails decision; says absentee ballots expanded access for residents
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled this week that so-called “no excuse” mail-in voting in the state is constitutional.
The ruling is seen as a setback to 14 Republican lawmakers who challenged the expansion of absentee ballots in court.
Meg Pierce, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, said mail-in ballots are important to ensure elections are accessible to everyone.
“Voting by mail is convenient and secure, and has resulted in an incredible boost in voter turnout in Pennsylvania's recent election,” Pierce said. “About 170,000 (additional) registered voters voted in Pennsylvania elections when they were allowed to vote by mail.”
Until 2019, Pennsylvania voters could only use an absentee ballot under certain conditions, such as illness, disability or being out of town on Election Day. That year, the Pennsylvania General Assembly voted to implement “no excuse” mail-in ballots for anyone who requests them.
Two of the Republican lawmakers who challenged the expansion of mail-in ballots voted for that law.
Now, Pennsylvania voters can request and use an absentee ballot for any reason, and the law will be in place for this November’s midterm election.
Pierce said there are 170,000 registered voters in Pennsylvania who voted by mail in 2020, but did not vote at all between 2016 and 2020.
She said the 2022 so-called midterm election is a critical one, with races for governor, U.S. Senate and House seats, state legislative seats, as well as Democratic and Republican Party committee members.
A Pennsylvanian must be a registered voter to request the mail-in ballot. The deadline to register is Oct. 24. The ballot must be completed and mailed to the local county election office by 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 8.
Pierce said the League of Women Voters recommends voters visit the website Vote411.org to study the ballot before they head to the polls or mail in their ballot.
“You put in your address, and it will autopopulate what your ballot will look like, depending on where you live,” Pierce said. “I encourage everyone who plans to vote to research their candidates and find out what’s going to be on the ballot, well ahead of Election Day.”
Gov. Tom Wolf addressed the Supreme Court decision, saying it “definitively asserts that voting by mail is a constitutionally valid method of voting,” which will allow voters “to cast ballots without disruption or confusion.”
Danielle M. Smith is a producer for Public News Service, where this story first appeared. An award-winning radio journalist/personality with more than a decade of experience in broadcast media, she is a former audio journalist with American Urban Radio Networks and Sheridan Broadcasting Networks who also hosts a weekly community affairs show “Good News” on WGBN (1360 AM/98.9 FM).
Originally published August 05, 2022.