Pennsylvania to pay for mail-in ballot postage in election

05 Aug 2020 | 05:56

(AP) Pennsylvania will foot the cost of postage for voters to mail in ballots in November’s general election, officials said July 31, a move that Gov. Tom Wolf has made a priority as the coronavirus pandemic unexpectedly fueled high interest in voting by mail under a new state law. The administration plans to use money from federal emergency coronavirus aid to foot the bill, which could run to several million dollars to cover 55 cents for millions of ballots. Wolf’s top elections official, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, said paying for the postage is a way to make voting more accessible, safer and easier during the pandemic. Advocates also said it should help people get their ballots in faster and on time. Under the plan, voters who apply for and receive a mail-in or absentee ballot in the mail will also get a postage-paid ballot-return envelope. Each county will have options on how to carry that out, whether using stamps, a metered machine or a business-reply mail account linked to the state’s, Boockvar said. While the U.S. Postal Service has said the post office delivers every piece of election mail to its destination -- with or without adequate postage -- advocates for postage-paid ballot envelopes argue that most voters are unlikely to trust that a ballot without postage will get delivered. In Pennsylvania, both the Republican and Democratic parties urged voters to cast ballots by mail in the June 2 primary election. More than 1.4 million Pennsylvanians voted by mail in the primary, or about half, smashing a state record made possible by a sweeping new election law Wolf signed last fall.