Voting in Pennsylvania in Tuesday’s presidential election means navigating the minefield of official, legal and political barriers.
Montana Tyler, a resident of South Philadelphia, is one case in point. While she was voting by mail, her mother, daughter and the 82-year-old woman who works as her guardian did not even receive the mail-in ballots they requested.
So like thousands of others on this crucial battlefield, she was spotted standing for hours outside Philadelphia City Hall, one of dozens of special election sites, making sure their request to vote by mail was not cracked.
“It’s the most horrible experience I ‘ve ever had and I know a lot of people living in the United States have ever gone to the polls,” Tyler said.
It was the first presidential election in Pennsylvania to be held mostly by mail-in ballots. The state changed its election laws in 2019 to make voting by mail more accessible, but demand increased due to a series of lawsuits and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus epidemic, the United States Postal Service.
With all these voting issues, observers are concerned, there is a possibility of changing the balance of power in the state and even increasing the presidential race.
A crucial race for both parties
The focus was on what votes would be accepted and which votes would be counted on a key battlefield like Pennsylvania, which once supported Democrats, but narrowly fell to Republicans in 2016.
Its 20 Electoral College votes will be crucial to the White House aspirations of both US President Donald Trump, Republican, and Democratic challenger Joe Biden – Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by a margin of 44,292 votes In 2016, an attempt to invalidate or suppress the vote is likely to upset the balance of power in the state.
RealClearPolitics, a U.S. political news site and polling data aggregator, shows stiff competition between Biden and Trump in Pennsylvania – the former Democratic vice president was just 3.6 points as of Friday evening, leading from 49.5 percent to 45.9 percent.
With so much riding on the result in Pennsylvania, it is Become a battleground on the courts With election-related lawsuits – Republicans, primarily, challenge everything from registration and voting deadlines to signing, as well as attempting to allow poll viewers on satellite early voting sites.
The cumulative impact of court wars and controversies has been a sleepless night for election officials, including Philadelphia Election Commissioner Lisa Deale.
In an interview with CBC News outside the opening voting site at Philadelphia City Hall, she said she had never experienced such an election.
“I never, ever – and I don’t know when we will [again] – Because it does everything at once, these new changes. It’s a pandemic, “Dealey said.” These are special times. “
Fear of ‘naked ballots’
The issue of “naked ballots” is Delay’s biggest fear. She warned that this could lead to the rejection of hundreds of thousands of votes.
Pennsylvania law requires voters to keep their ballot in a secret envelope and place it in a return envelope before it can be mailed back or dropped at a designated box. Failure to use the secret envelope that comes with the ballot is considered a naked ballot and is ignored.
In September, the The state Supreme Court ruled Ballots without a secret envelope will not be counted against Democrats who re-mailed.
“This is a destination from the past when counting absent ballots on an accurate scale. We have not done so in years,” Deale said. “We’re going to count on an industrial scale, so voter identification is not likely to be compromised in any way.”
When the Philadelphia primary election was held in June, six percent of mail-in ballots were rejected because of this rule. Dealey estimates that 300,000 to 400,000 ballots will be thrown across the state.
This is a significant number and where in the state determined by a narrow margin in the 2016 election A high percentage of mail-in ballots From voters registered as Democrats.
“For a vote to be properly applied … it would be really unfair that the voter did not hear their voice or that their vote was counted because of technology,” she said.
Post office controversy
Even for voters who receive their mail-in ballots, there are still potential pitfalls. The simple act of mailing the ballot has become political and has become a source of controversy. Allegations against the Trump administration Interfering with the post office In summer, incl Ongoing attacks on the president Against the legality of mail-in ballots, many voters are intimidated.
After placing her ballot in a drop box set up outside the country office in Levitown, northeast of Philadelphia, Theresa van Prett said, “I do not trust mail to arrive on time.
On a sunny afternoon, there was a steady flow of cars as people popped out to put their mail-in ballots inside the box – this was the source of the lawsuit. It is guarded by an officer with the sheriff’s department, a person with security cameras, who ensures that a ballot rule is followed.
In constantly pointing out that mail-in ballots are full of fraud, Trump pointed to examples in Pennsylvania – in one case Raising a minor clerical error to national attention.
“There’s a lot of controversy,” said Sherry Walters, who came to the Levitown dropbox with her daughter Jessica, who voted for the first time.
“I never had a problem with the mail, but a lot of things are going on, so we want to give our vote the best shot to get where we want to go.”
When are the votes counted?
But that was another wrong line in Pennsylvania when votes piled up in those drop boxes and received by mail.
In addition to Michigan and Wisconsin, Pennsylvania is one of the most important battlefield states Mail-in ballots cannot be counted ahead of time. Instead, the count will begin on election day or later in some counties Prioritize counting votes individually.
See | Philadelphia voters personally file ballots amid mail-in vote uncertainty:
With more than 62 percent of mail-in ballot requests coming from Democrats, according to the Pennsylvania State Department, some election legal experts say the early results – which weigh in on the person-voting side – are coming towards Republicans. On election day they have the opportunity to vote in person.
After several court battles, Pennsylvania will accept mail-in ballots for up to three days after the election, until post-marked on Election Day on Tuesday.
The U.S. Supreme Court has twice rejected Republicans’ petitions to change this, although it may reconsider the issue after the election – Counties are forced to have any ballots They will arrive separately after 8pm on Tuesday night if they are thrown out by the courts.
Trump wants election night results
In the state’s largest Philadelphia county, Lisa Deale said one thing for sure when it comes to counting votes: “There will be no full election results on November 3, that’s one thing for sure.
“We have what we have on November 3rd and we will continue to count on a 24 hour cycle.”
Election observers are concerned that it could lead For a nightmare scene Here, in the by-elections, the Republican person-voting will dominate the early results – showing an advantage to the president, who said this week should be the election night result.
See | Why Thousands of Votes Can Be Thrown in Pennsylvania:
“I think [Nov. 3]”We’m going to work overtime, let’s see what happens at the end of the day, and hope there’s more time than that,” Trump said Wednesday during a campaign stop in Las Vegas.
“There are very few states left that want to take too long after November 3 to count the ballots – various courts will not allow it.”
The fear is that Trump will double his fraud allegations as he counts those ballots after election day, especially if they add up to the amount of the Democratic vote, and he could resort to the courts to invalidate the results.
Dealey said officials in Philadelphia are working to ensure the integrity of the process, “so while voters and the world are waiting for them, we can guarantee that we’ll count as quickly and accurately as possible.”
Montana Tyler and others in Philadelphia believe in the process, but know election night is going to be on the edge of their seats.
“Everyone was on pins and needles,” Tyler said. “On election night, I don’t think anyone will sleep. They are biting their fingernails and praying.”
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