Pennsylvania counties push for changes to mail ballot law

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s counties continue to press lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf to allow them to process mail-in ballots before Election Day in the battleground state as they consider the prospect of waiting until polls open to dig into what could be 3 million or more envelopes.

Allowing as many as 21 days to process mail-in ballots before Election Day has been the counties’ top election priority for months.

But it remained stuck Tuesday in a wider partisan dispute between the Democratic governor and the Republican-controlled Legislature amid a high-stakes presidential election and partisan lawsuits over how mail-in ballots should be collected and counted.

Demand is rising for mail-in ballots because of the coronavirus, and could surpass 10 times the amount in 2016′s presidential election.

County officials say processing mail-in ballots before Election Day will speed up vote counting amid concerns that a presidential election result will hang in limbo for days on a drawn-out vote count in Pennsylvania.

In a pointed message on Twitter, the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania said “we don’t want Pennsylvania to become a national news story.”

Diane Ellis-Marseglia, chair of Bucks County’s commissioners, estimated that processing ballots before Election Day would allow her county to tabulate them all within 12 to 15 hours after polls close. Otherwise, it could take three days with election workers working around the clock, she said.

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