(AP) Pennsylvanians should be confident state officials are working to ensure voters can exercise their democratic rights in this election season - whether in person or by mail.
And for many Pennsylvanians — especially those older, reliable voters — having multiple options is a most welcome development.
Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar laid out on Friday during “Live on PennLive with Joyce Davis’’ all of the things her office is doing to give voters as many ways as possible to cast their ballots. They include:
● Voting early in person at a polling place
● Voting by mail and dropping the ballot in a mailbox
● Voting by mail and dropping the ballot in a designated “drop box’’
● Voting in person on Nov. 3
Voters will have to make a personal decision about which of these options works best for them. The good news is, a record number of people are going to participate in democracy this election season, probably due in no small part to Boockvar’s efforts to make it as easy as possible.
Boockvar says almost 8.9 million people have registered to vote, an all-time high. But she wants to see that number reach nine million. We do, too.
It definitely helps increase voter participation by having so many ways for people to cast their votes. And it should encourage voters to know Boockvar and state officials are taking seriously the risk associated with voting during a pandemic. They are aware many elderly people and those with health conditions will not stand in long lines or pick up the same pen hundreds of other people touched on election day.
Thanks to Boockvar and her staff, they don’t have to.
For those who do want to vote in person on Nov. 3, Boockvar is also offering solid reassurance the polling places will be as safe and secure as possible. Surfaces will be regularly wiped down, poll workers will wear masks and the pens will be disinfected for those who don’t bring their own.
But voters should keep in mind, going to the polls during a pandemic entails some risks.
Poll workers will not be tested to determine if they are carrying the coronavirus. Temperatures will not be taken of poll workers, staff or voters. And it’s possible someone standing next to you could carry the virus.
That’s why it’s important for voters who show up at the polls to do their part to protect themselves and others: wear a mask that covers both the nose and mouth, maintain social distancing and wash hands frequently.
The Secretary of State’s office has made it super easy to get information about where to vote, how to vote and the deadlines for casting your vote. It’s all on VotesPA.com. And if you don’t want to use a computer, you can call 1- 877-votes-pa to get any information you need about how to participate in the Nov. 3 election.
The sad news is Boockvar and her colleagues have more to worry about then just COVID-19 and keeping polling places clean and disinfected. This election, they also have to take seriously the threat of voter intimidation.
And, yes, they are taking it seriously. The state is making sure if you decide to go to the polls on Nov. 3, you won’t have to worry about anyone threatening you or trying to stop you from voting. A slew of law enforcement agencies are working with state officials to protect the polls, workers and any voter who wants to enter a polling place on Nov. 3.
If ever there was a time to thank the Office of Secretary of State, this is it. They are facing challenges no one could have imagined to make sure we are all able to vote in as many ways as possible.
Maybe next election, they find a way to let us all vote immediately — online. It’s definitely coming.
Harrisburg Patriot News/Pennlive.com