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Allegheny County Demands All-Mail Voting for State’s June 2 Primary

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By Associated Press

April 13, 2020

Asking people to work at polling places and vote there goes against the social-distancing requirements, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The top government official in Pennsylvania’s second-most populous county said Monday that he wants the authority from the state to conduct the June 2 primary election entirely by mail.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said holding an in-person election in the midst of the coronavirus crisis would be a “disaster.”

He wants Gov. Tom Wolf to expand the state’s emergency declaration to allow Allegheny County to mail ballots to every registered voter and avoid the legal requirement that it open hundreds of polling places staffed by thousands of poll workers.

“I’m very concerned that we can actually operate this and actually function, getting this many people to work the election and in voting places,” Fitzgerald said in an interview.

Officials in a pair of heavily populated suburban Philadelphia counties, Montgomery and Chester, are also backing the idea of an all-mail election, while Philadelphia is making preparations for it in case an all-mail election is ordered.

Asking people to work at polling places and vote there goes against the social-distancing requirements for residents to slow the spread of the coronavirus in Pennsylvania, Fitzgerald said.

Democrats pressed for a provision in legislation last month to require counties to send mail-in ballot applications to every voter, but it lacked support in the Republican-controlled Legislature and didn’t pass.

Lawmakers did, however, delay the primary election from April 28 to June 2.

In other coronavirus-related developments in Pennsylvania:

CASES

The state Department of Health said confirmed cases of coronavirus had risen to above 24,000, while coronavirus-related deaths have reached 524.

It reported 1,366 additional cases in the 24 hours through midnight Sunday and 17 new deaths.

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

This story has been corrected to show that Fitzgerald’s action came Monday, not Friday.

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