Philadelphia voters who don’t have time to send back their mail ballots for Tuesday’s primary can instead drop them off at multiple locations across the city.
On Tuesday, there will be 11 drop boxes for voters to hand-deliver their ballots up until the 8 p.m. deadline, when polls close.
Drop boxes are new for Philadelphia — and largely foreign to Pennsylvania — because state election law used to restrict absentee ballots so much that only about 5% of votes in any election were cast by mail.
But a new election law now allows any voter to vote by mail, and that combined with the coronavirus pandemic has led to a massive surge in mail ballot requests, with 1.9 million Pennsylvania voters requesting them for today’s election. Philadelphia alone has 225,000 requests this year — many more than the 107,000 absentee requests in the entire state in the 2016 primary.
At the same time, county elections officials have warned, the pandemic has slowed down every step in the process of voting by mail. Thousands of Pennsylvania voters could receive their ballots too late to return them by mail. In response, Gov. Wolf on Monday said ballots postmarked on Tuesday and received by next Tuesday, June 9, would be counted in Philadelphia and Delaware, Montgomery, Allegheny, Dauphin, and Erie Counties.
State law says voters have to turn in their own ballots, so friends or family members can’t deliver them.
The city commissioners, working with Philadelphia City Council, have arranged 11 drop-off locations in different neighborhoods while polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.