SIDEBAR Spring 2020 - 10
By Joel B. Bernbaum, Esq.
n October 31, 2019, Governor
Wolf signed Act 77 of 2019
into law. The Act reforms our
Elections, allowing early voting, voting
by mail (different than absentee voting),
absentee ballot changes, additional security,
and more funding for new voting.
1. Voting by Mail
We can now vote by mail, in addition to voting as an absentee
voter, in which case you must vote by absentee ballot. You must
apply for a mail-in ballot if you want to vote by mail. You do
not need to provide a reason or excuse if you want to use a
mail-in ballot. Voter Services must receive your application for a
mail-in ballot by 5:00 p.m. on the Tuesday before the election
(including a Primary). You can return your ballot by mailing with
the provided envelope or dropping it off in person by 8:00 p.m.
on election day.
You can request to be placed on a permanent mail-in voter list.
A mail-in ballot application is mailed to you by the first Monday
in February each year. If you complete and return the application,
Montgomery County will send you ballots in the mail for all the
elections that take place that year, as well as for any special election
held through the third Monday in February of the next year.
Remember, if you vote by mail-in ballot, within the deadlines, you
cannot vote in person, no exceptions. If you missed the deadline
for returning the ballot or aren't sure your ballot was received, you
can vote a provisional ballot at your polling place. The validity
of the provisional ballot will be determined at the official count of
the election. Montgomery County (and all counties) are required
to send out mail-in and absentee ballots no later than the second
Tuesday of the preceding month.
The process for obtaining an emergency absentee ballot has
been simplified. More than one voter may now designate the same
person to deliver their ballot. For example, your neighbor may
deliver ballots for multiple voters.
The deadline to register to vote is now 15 days before an
election, rather than 30 days. If your voter registration application
is denied, the deadlines to appeal the decision have also changed.
Counties must now process absentee applications beginning 50
days before the election. Counties may wait for the result of a
court proceeding that would affect what's on the ballots before
delivering absentee ballots. In any case, counties must begin, at the
latest, to deliver absentee ballots by the second Tuesday before the
election. Finally, if you have a permanent disability, you may ask to
be placed on a permanent absentee voter list.
3. No Straight-Party Voting
You no longer have a straight-party button to vote for all
candidates of one party. If you want to vote for all candidates of
one party, you will have to select the candidates one at a time.
4. No Stickers to Vote for Write-in Candidates
You are not allowed to use stickers or paste-on labels for writein candidates because the ballot-scanning machines cannot read
them and may become jammed. The law now says that write-in
names may be written or stamped.
5. Canvassing of Ballots
Absentee and mail-in ballots must now be counted centrally at
the county board of elections office. They will no longer be sent to
polling places and counted there. Canvassing (or counting) must
begin by the third day after election day.
I hope this handy guide helps answer some of your questions
regarding the upcoming Primary and the November Presidential
elections. It is important that we are able to tell our friends, family,
etc., what changes were made. And to promote VOTING, as
officers of the Court and representatives of our legal system.
SIDEBAR Spring 2020
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