Pennsylvania Abruptly Changes Voter Registration Form, Combines With Mail-In Ballot Application

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In the middle of the election cycle, the Pennsylvania Department of State has suddenly changed its voter registration application form to include a mail-in ballot application.

The applications used to be on separate forms, but this seemingly small clerical change is creating logistical headaches for county election directors and causing voter confusion.

Registering to vote and seeking a mail-in ballot are two different actions requiring different responses in the county election offices.

“We use the voter registration application for one thing, we use a mail-in ballot application for something different,” Christa Miller, Lancaster County’s election director, told The Epoch Times. “One has to be done before the other. Obviously, you have to be a voter in order to get a detailed ballot, so that has to be processed first. And then your mail-in ballot application can be processed. We also file them all completely different.”

All voter registration applications are filed together, and mail-in ballot applications are filed separately. That is because, as per state law, county election offices must mail an application each year to everyone who asked to be on the permanent mail-in ballot list.

“In February, we have to send them an application for that calendar year,” Miller said. Then the voter must send it back, confirming they want to participate in mail-in voting for the year. The office files the mail-in applications alphabetically.

Procedure Changed in Middle of Election Cycle

Between the May primary and the November general election, the county elections office fields a lot of calls from voters who want to verify they checked the mail-in ballot box or to check the address where the ballot will be sent.

Instead of going though something like 400,000 voter registration forms, it’s easier to go through 30,000 specific mail-in ballot forms.

The Department of State combined the documents and implemented the new form on Aug. 19, which was 13 weeks after the primary and just 11 weeks before the general election.

By Beth Brelje

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