The state’s top elections official said the volume of mailed-in ballots could make it impossible to produce a result in close races on election night.
Pennsylvania’s top elections official, Kathy Boockvar, said that voters have submitted about 1.6 million applications for mail-in and absentee ballots for the June 2 primary election.
That number, she said, is “off the charts” and beyond most expectations. Applications are pouring in ahead of next Tuesday’s deadline to apply, as counties make plans to dramatically reduce the number of physical polling place locations because of the coronavirus.
The fear of infection has made it difficult to recruit polling workers, and state and federal health guidelines have made it difficult to find polling places that can accommodate the demands of social distancing.
In a conference call organized by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey’s office, Boockvar said she does not expect to see lines at polling places in most locations, given the number of mail-in and absentee ballots requested and considering Wolf’s stay-at-home orders that might be in place in some parts of Pennsylvania.
Some counties have already received more mail-in ballot applications than the entire vote total they expect in the primary election, Boockvar said.
More than 3.2 million people cast ballots in the 2016 primary election when the presidential nominations were still contested. This year, the nominations are uncontested.
Still, Boockvar conceded that the volume of mailed-in ballots could make it impossible to produce a result in close races on election night.
It will depend on how many ballots are actually submitted, she said. Some counties have received about 50% of the ballots for which voters applied, and those numbers vary tremendously across the state, she said.
“Some of the races that are not close we will get results quickly, but if there are close races, it may take a couple of days,” Boockvar said.
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