Why these election changes matter

- Delays Pennsylvania’s April 28 primary election until June 2 in response to the still-growing COVID-19 crisis.

- Gives county election officials time to create a contingency plan for the primary, and allows counties for the current election only to:
Consolidate polling places, as long as they provide notice of polling place changes – which would not need court approval - at least 20 days before the election and provided the consolidations do not reduce the number of polling locations by more than 60%in the county. 
Provide public notification of all polling locations at least 15 days prior to the election. 
Locate polling places in buildings where malt or brewed beverages and liquors are served, as long as voting does not occur in a room where those beverages are dispensed nor requires voters to go through those rooms. (example: VFWs)

- Allows counties to begin processing absentee and mail-in ballots at 7 a.m. on Election Day, and counting can start at the close of the polls.  

The bill also contains SB422’s original intent of creating a Pennsylvania Election Law Advisory Board. The board will be charged with the following duties: 
1. Study the Election Code to identify statutory language or regulations that can be repealed, modified or updated.
2. Collaborate with agencies and political subdivisions to study election related issues.
3. Study new election technology.
4. Evaluate the electoral process and identify best practices to ensure voting integrity and efficiency.
5. Publish an annual report with the findings on the Joint State Government Commission’s website.

Members of the board will include legislative appointees and one member from each congressional district, which shall include members who represent groups advocating for individuals with disabilities, groups advocating for voters’ rights, and county commissioners or county election officials.

Questions & Answers

With the new date for the Primary....

How will I know if my original polling location has changed? 
It must be posted on each county’s website at least 15 days prior to the primary.

What about timelines for voter registration, applying for my mail-in ballot, etc.? How will those work?  
The timelines are all the same, they will just be calculated now based on the June 2 date.   The deadline for registering to vote for the primary is expected to be May 18. The deadline for applying for an absentee or mail-in ballot is expected to be May 26.

What if I already applied or registered?  Is that still good?  

Yes. Voter registrations and applications for absentee or mail-in ballots that were already submitted in anticipation of the April primary are still valid for the June 2 date, and applications for vote by mail are still valid.

I heard that polling places can be at bars now.  Is that true? 
Not entirely. Polling places that were available in April may not be available in June, especially with pandemic. In order to help with that, your county may have a polling place for the June 2 primary in bars, but the election cannot occur in the same location were these beverages are dispensed.  For example, a polling place could be in a VFW building that has a bar, as long as the actual voting takes place in a different room with a separate entrance. 

With respect to all of these polling location changes, etc.  is that how elections are going to be going forward? 
NO.  These are emergency provisions only to respond to the date of the primary changing, and they will expire after the primary is complete.

With respect to mail-in ballots....

What if I don’t want to go to the polls, even in June.  What should I do? 
You can still vote by mail, as per the changes made to the Election Code through Act 77 of 2019.