Wolf says he would support moving primary mail-in ballot deadline

Gov. Tom Wolf delivers a daily press briefing Monday, April 6. (Screen capture)

(*Updated, 5:10 p.m., 5/27/20 with new information from the Wolf administration)

Gov. Tom Wolf said Wednesday during a press briefing on the latest coronavirus developments that he would be “supportive” of an effort in Montgomery County to extend the mail-in ballot deadline for the upcoming primary election to June 9. 

Officials there have filed a petition with the Court of Common Pleas for an extension after some 2,000 voters received the wrong ballots. 

Wolf said moving the date of the June 2 primary at the state level would require action from the Legislature and that he would not be able to issue an executive order. Voters who have mailed in their ballots but are concerned that they would not reach election offices in time may be able to vote in-person using a provisional ballot, he added. 

The governor also said he did not believe that the state could require voters to wear masks at the polls. 

The state Department of Health reported 780 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, bringing the total to 69,417 cases, with a total of 5,265 deaths since March 6. State Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said during the press briefing that overall case counts are trending downward across the state.

The governor also provided specific guidelines for the 18 counties that will be moving into the “green” zone on Friday. All previous stay-at-home orders are suspended for Bradford, Cameron, Centre, Clarion, Clearfield, Crawford, Elk, Forest, Jefferson, Lawrence, McKean, Montour, Potter, Snyder, Sullivan, Tioga, Venango and Warren counties on May 29. 

Personal care businesses like hair salons in green zone counties have to operate on an appointment-only basis, and the state encourages gyms and spas to ask customers to make reservations or appointments as well. 

Concerts, festivals, conferences, performances and sporting events in green counties are limited to 250 people. Houses of worship, while encouraged to enforce social distancing, are excluded from the limits.  

Nursing home visitation limits will remain in place, but visitation to prisons and hospitals may resume at the discretion of each facility.

Restaurants in counties in the “yellow” phase as of June 5 can add dine-in service in outdoor seating areas with some limitations. Buffets, salad bars and other self-serve food and drink options are prohibited, and restaurants can’t have containers of condiments on tables, but should have servers provide condiments at customer’ request. BYOB beverage containers and reusable menus also are prohibited under “yellow” phase guidelines, and occupancy limits will apply.