Some primary voters at polls poo poo mail in voting

By: - June 2, 2020 2:12 pm

EAST PENNSBORO TWP., Pa. — Some voters who walked, drove or taxied to their polling place Tuesday to vote in the June 2 presidential primary had a clear message: They don’t trust mail in-ballots.

“It’s my right” to show up in person, said Nancy Jones, a 69-year old Republican in this West Shore suburb of Harrisburg. “I believe it’s the only safe and secure way to vote.”

She was concerned about a mail in vote being thrown away or not counted, mirroring a concern from other in-person voters interviewed across Harrisburg and its suburbs.

Pennsylvania only approved mail in voting last fall in a bipartisan effort from both Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler, R-Lancster. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, election experts and politicians have pushed to expand mailed ballots to keep people away from polls and voting safely from home.

President Donald Trump, a Republican, has fanned distrust of the format via his Twitter page, claiming without evidence that voting by mail will be “substantially fraudulent.” Twitter itself flagged the tweets as inaccurate.

In fact, both red and blue states, including Oregon and Utah, have held elections entirely by mail for decades. Fraud in these elections is rare, Roll Call, a publication that covers Capitol Hill, reported. 

Studies have found no partisan advantage to mail-in voting, while both Republican and Democratic parties have pushed their voters to take advantage of Pennsylvania’s new laws.

In Camp Hill, Christopher Hans, a 62-year old Republican, said voting in person is “important for your civic duty to show up and make the effort.”

Mail in voting, he said, should be restricted to those with health issues, which he said would be a “very small percentage.”

Across the river in Harrisburg, David Wise, a 66-year old Democrat, walked two minutes to his Midtown polling place. He said he had no concerns about voting by mail ― it’s just more convenient to go himself.

It wasn’t just older individuals showing up in person. Back in East Pennsboro, Beka Jackson, 23, left her polling place after casting a ballot in person.

Jackson, who declined to reveal her affiliation, said she’d voted absentee before when out of state.

“I know that not everyone can vote in person,” she said.

Jackson was even preparing to vote by mail when pandemic started. But with her polling place open, she showed up.

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Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso is a former senior reporter with Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Before working with the Capital-Star he covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter.