Voters in Philadelphia may still correct mistakes on mail-in ballots

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On Tuesday, Philadelphia voters were permitted to cast replacement votes at City Hall or cast provisional ballots in their normal precincts if their mail-in ballots contained dates that were incomplete or wrong.

The Philadelphia City Commissioners, the city’s election commission, released the names of hundreds of people on Friday. On Monday, those individuals showed up to City Hall to fix date mistakes as well as other reported concerns, such as missing security envelopes and missing signatures. Several county elections boards made an attempt to inform voters that they may correct any problems with the ballot. Their outreach came in reaction to a recent decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court that mail-in ballots may not be tallied if the external envelopes do not have precise handwritten dates.

Unknown is the number of ballots that have been highlighted throughout the state; nevertheless, Philadelphia’s lists contain more than 3,500 names, about 2,400 of which were reported for having dates that were either missing or wrong. Republicans are much less likely than Democrats to vote via mail. There are enough mail-in votes to potentially make a difference in a tight election, as the one for the US Senate between Democrats John Fetterman and Republicans Mehmet Oz.

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Voters who arrived in line to remedy the concerns after 3:45 p.m. were turned away, according to Deputy Commissioner Nick Custodio of the elections board. The Philadelphia office, which closes at 5 p.m., stayed open until 7 p.m. on Monday.

Election officials, according to Custodio, are urging those voters to come back to City Hall on Tuesday to cast a new ballot. He indicated they may cast a provisional ballot at their normal voting station if they couldn’t make it to City Hall. However, he insisted that they start right away.

We’re in entirely uncharted area over here, he declared. According to the legislation, mail-in ballots need to be received by this evening at 8 p.m. By eight o’clock, it must be in the vote box. People should arrive early because yesterday’s wait times were really long, and we want to make sure everyone is done by 8 p.m.

Even though polls shut at 8 p.m., day-of voting rules allow those in line at the polls at that time to cast their votes. But according to Custodio, any voters still standing in line at 8 o’clock to fix mail-in voting errors would be sent away.

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The City Commissioners also decided to resume a procedure to reconcile the poll books while the count is taking place rather than waiting until after the count at an emergency meeting early on Tuesday. The method has been employed in the past to weed out potential multiple votes, but it hasn’t turned up any problems in the last three elections and is longer than reconciling after the vote has been counted. Depending on how the procedure is restarted, the final votes will probably be counted on Friday.

The vote, according to Andrew Richman of Philadelphia’s Law Department, took place after a court denied Republicans’ request for an injunction, which would have required the city to resume the procedure. Commissioners were troubled by the judge’s conclusion, which criticized the city for eliminating the process.

Richman stated in an email that “the terrible ruling of the Court has at the eleventh hour put unwarranted doubt on the integrity of Philadelphia’s election and will feed disinformation operations that pounce on any chance to develop cynicism in the democratic process.” The Court’s judgment has generated public worries, no matter how unjustified, which the City Commissioners cannot ignore.

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