State officials report more than 910k requests for mail-in, absentee ballots | Five for the Weekend

So far, approximately 448,000 mail-in ballots have been returned to local election offices statewide

By: - May 14, 2022 6:30 am

(Image via the Wisconsin Examiner)

Happy weekend, all. 

Pennsylvania’s May 17 primary election is now just days away.

With that in mind, state election officials are reminding voter who voted or plan to vote via mail-in ballot, to return their ballots to their county boards of election as soon as possible.

The deadline for election officials to receive mail-in ballots is 8 p.m. on election day. 

Voters have several options for returning mail-in and absentee ballots, including mailing them, utilizing official drop box locations, or taking them directly to their county election board.

More information about drop box and election office locations can be found here. 

As of Wednesday, Department of State officials reported that they received more than 807,000 requests for mail-in ballots, and 103,000 absentee ballot requests for a combined total of more than 910,000 ballot requests. 

Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman told reporters in a virtual briefing on Wednesday that so far, approximately 448,000 mail-in ballots have been returned to local election offices statewide.

As always, the top five stories from this week are below. 

Chronic absenteeism rates fell 8 percentage points among schools in Nevada and Colorado that adopted the ‘Breakfast after the Bell’ program (Image via Jessica Rinaldi/The Boston Globe via Getty Images/The Conversation).

1. Eligible Pa. families to see relief after COVID-19 disrupted school meal programs

Families with children affected by COVID-19 closings should soon see relief with federal approval of a program that will cover the costs of school meals after the pandemic disrupted traditional operations.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture approved Pennsylvania’s Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer Plan for the 2021-22 school year, the state Department of Human Services announced Wednesday.

Department of Human Services acting Secretary Meg Snead described the P-EBT program — which provides funds to make up for missed school meals resulting from the pandemic — as a “lifeline” for families. The initiative helps eligible families cover the costs of breakfasts and lunches for kids at a free or a reduced price through the National School Lunch Program in schools or childcare facilities.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey questions witnesses at the Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing Feb. 12 (Screen Capture).

2. Pa.’s Casey says he’ll vote for abortion rights bill

Pennsylvania’s senior United States senator says he’s a yes vote on a bill protecting abortion rights, handing Democrats crucial support in the narrowly divided chamber ahead of Wednesday’s planned vote on the legislation.

In a statement, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, a Scranton Democrat who opposes abortion, but has voted to support family planning and satellite issues, said he’ll vote to advance debate on the bill, and also will vote for the bill on final passage in the chamber if, and when, the time comes.

Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, speaks with attendees on the Capitol steps of a rally for gun rights on September 29, 2020. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

3. Now a defender of personal freedom, Mastriano wanted to lift privacy rules in pandemic’s early days

In March 2020, Doug Mastriano was a back-bench Republican state senator who was a year into his first term after winning a central Pennsylvania special election.

That month, COVID-19 lockdowns swept the nation. By late April, Mastriano, of Franklin County, arose as a powerful voice opposing Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s use of executive power.

In nightly live videos, he spoke to people’s sense of frustration and anger with business closures and mask orders, and the isolation of being locked up at home amid the turmoil.

In this November 2019 photo, patrons smoke marijuana at a state-licensed but federally illegal marijuana establishment in Los Angeles.(AP Photo/Richard Vogel/The Conversation)

4. The pressure is on Pa. as neighboring states legalize recreational cannabis

Will bipartisan talks in Harrisburg finally spark recreational marijuana legalization, or is the latest effort to go green destined to go up in smoke?

With neighboring states including Maryland, New York and New Jersey establishing their own private adult-use cannabis markets, Pennsylvania may be feeling peer pressure to act. The General Assembly has taken steps this year to learn more about recreational cannabis legalization through a series of public hearings in Senate committees, and a pair of bipartisan proposals suggest the commonwealth may be closer to legalization than ever before.

Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, speaks during an event in Gettysburg to formally announce a run for governor on Jan. 8, 2022. (Screenshot)

5. Pa. GOP governor hopeful Mastriano campaigned at event promoting QAnon

A top-tier Republican candidate for Pennsylvania governor, among other GOP luminaries, put in an appearance at an event in Gettysburg last weekend that promoted QAnon and conspiracy theories about the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, according to published reports.

The candidate, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, attended the conference called “Patriots Arise for God and Country,” according to Right Wing Watch, a website that monitors the far right.

Mastriano was joined by Republican lieutenant governor hopeful Teddy Daniels; Maryland gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox; Liz Harrington, a spokesperson for former President Donald Trump; and former Trump campaign attorney Jenna Ellis, according to Philadelphia Inquirer, which first reported the story.

And that’s the week. We’ll see you back here next week.

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.