Submitted by Bob Griewahn
As mentioned previously, Pennsylvania’s April primary election was postponed to June. The scheduled date is now Tuesday, June 2nd. As a judge of elections, I’m urging all voters to vote by mail in the upcoming primary.
How Do I Get a Ballot?
The Allegheny County Elections Division recently announced that all registered voters will be mailed vote-by-mail ballots in early to mid-May. You may already have received a ballot by the time you read this. If not, you can still request a mail-in ballot.
Why Vote By Mail?
If you’re like me, you like going to the polling place each election to cast your ballot. Here’s why you may want to consider voting by mail in this election.
- Health – This is the most obvious reason to vote by mail. By avoiding the crowds at polling places, you avoid viral transmission.
- Fewer Polling Places – Act 12 was recently signed into law. Among other provisions, it allows the state to reduce the number of polling locations by 60%. Allegheny County traditionally has had over 1,300 polling places, but the country recently asked the state to reduce that number to only 200-300 locations. The new law says that each municipality has to have at least one polling place. The City of Pittsburgh, however, is an exception: Pittsburgh has to have at least nine polling places. Nine. I expect the city to have more than nine locations, but that figure gives you an indication of the kind of reduction the state government is considering. So, there’s a very good chance that you will not be voting at your traditional polling place and may have to travel to vote in person.
- Long Lines – Fewer polling places means longer lines for the voters who choose to vote in person. The government’s hope, obviously, is that most people will vote by mail, thereby reducing the lines. Still, there will be voters who show up at the consolidated polling locations. They probably can expect longer lines than normal. And, it’s not just due to the reduction in the number of locations that will cause the long lines. Strict social distancing will be required, which means that the floors will be taped to indicate where voters can stand, and how far apart from each other they must be. That means that more people may have to wait outside to get in.
- New Machines – There will be new voting machines this year. Voters will be given scannable paper ballots to fill out, which will then be fed into a ballot reader. Since this is an entirely new system, voters are undoubtedly going to take longer to cast their votes. More time per person means longer lines. Furthermore, the Elections Division had to cancel many of the training classes for the poll workers who will be assisting voters on the machines. So, you can expect more confusion than normal if you vote in person.
- All the Other Reasons –There are a host of reasons people don’t vote in person, even if they intended to. Bad weather, illness, unforeseen emergencies, prior commitments, etc. I hear these from my voters all the time: “I always vote, but I couldn’t this last time because of XYZ.” All those issues can still arise on election day, making it a hassle to vote in person.
So please consider voting by mail. Even though the county will attempt to send mail-in ballots to all registered voters, you may want to apply for one anyway. You can do so at this link:
You’ll need a valid PA driver’s license or PennDOT ID number. The online application takes only a few minutes. I did it a few days ago, and it was easy.
Want to check to see if you’re registered? Go to this link to verify your registration:
Want to see who’s on the ballot? You can look up the sample ballots for your polling place here (Allegheny West is in Ward 22, District 1):
Make your voice heard at the polls this year – by mail!