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Pennsylvania elections present another test case in COVID-19 voting

State must learn from successes and failures ahead of November election
For Immediate Release

PHILADELPHIA -- Pennsylvania held its primary elections Tuesday. Even before the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), more Pennsylvanians than ever were going to vote by mail given the state’s expansion of mail-in voting last fall. However, the spread of COVID-19 has accelerated that shift towards more mail-in voting. Compounding matters, recent civil unrest in response to police brutality led many counties to consolidate polling locations.

Emma Horst-Martz, PennPIRG Campaign Associate, issued the following statement in response: 

“In times of crisis, it is critical that we preserve our democracy and maintain faith in our government and institutions. We applaud the efforts by Gov. Wolf, local counties and election boards for their efforts to hold a fair and accessible election during a global pandemic and civil unrest. 

“While we acknowledge there will likely be growing pains in the transition to more voting by mail, state and local election officials must assess today’s successes and failures, and then implement fixes going forward. Already, we’ve seen confusion around the consolidated polling locations and how voters should handle issues with their mail in ballots, among other issues.  

“Along with freedom of speech and freedom to protest, voting is a critical way for the public to engage in democracy and make our voices heard. We look forward to working with lawmakers to ensure that everyone is able to cast their ballot in November without putting their health at risk, either by mailing their ballots or voting safely in person.”

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