Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman speaks during a voting rights roundtable sponsored by the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus on Wednesday, 10/26/22 (Screen Capture).
Less than 24 hours before polls are set to open on Election Day, Pennsylvania’s top election official said that voters should feel “confident” about heading to the polls on Tuesday.
“I just wanted to say voters should feel confident to go to the polling place tomorrow and cast your ballot. In person, they should also feel confident that if you have a mail-in ballot right now you can go to your county dropbox or your county election office and return that,” acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman said during a news briefing.
Chapman also said that she is confident in the ability of local election officials to conduct an accurate and secure election.
On Saturday, the Pennsylvania Department of State asked all 67 counties across the commonwealth to provide the state with a party-by-party count of mail-in ballots with incorrect or missing dates.
Chapman said that the agency’s SURE (Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors), system, a database of registered electors in the commonwealth, wasn’t built to collect that information.
So if counties choose not to comply with the state’ survey request, state election officials will not have an accurate picture of how many ballots are affected by minor but potentially disqualifying issues such as lacking a signature, a date or a secrecy envelope.
“It’s critical that all counties do respond to that,” Chapman said, adding that counties’ deadline to respond to the request is end-of-day Monday.
In late October, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that counties could contact voters about correcting — or “curing” — their ballots. In November, the state’s highest court also ruled that counties could not count undated or incorrectly dated mail-in ballots.
Chapman confirmed Monday that the final decision about whether or not voters can cure their ballots is at the discretion of county election officials.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Gov. Tom Wolf said that voters should have the opportunity to fix minor errors on their ballots.
“A cornerstone of our democracy is that every ballot should be counted, and no voter should be disenfranchised simply because they made a minor error in filling out their ballot, Wolf said.
“I encourage all counties to communicate with voters who have submitted ballots with minor but potentially disqualifying errors as soon as possible and allow them to address those errors so their voices can be heard,” the governor’s statement concluded.
“See if you can cure that ballot,” Chapman said, adding that if county election officials do not allow a ballot to be cured, voters should ask to vote via provisional ballot on Election Day. The eligibility of provisional ballots is also determined by the local board of elections.
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