Pennsylvania updates (3)

In Pennsylvania Voting, Words Matter. Fashion Doesn’t.

What did you wear to the polling place today?

Among the potential problems with voting, fashion would seem to rank fairly low on the scale. Yet many state laws specifically prohibit voters from wearing shirts or hats bearing the names or slogans of political candidates in polling places.

When they do, in most cases voters are asked either to remove or cover up such items, but not all states have a blanket prohibition. In Pennsylvania, where state law prohibits overt electioneering for a candidate, voters can wear clothing that has a candidate’s name or slogan on it. But not all poll workers seem to be aware of that rule.

Multiple callers to the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline from Pennsylvania voters today said they were told they could not vote while wearing clothing with campaign themes or images. Many were told they would need to wear a jacket or other piece of clothing to obscure the offending article. Almost all of them reported they were then able to vote.

Pennsylvania law reads: “No person, when within the polling place, shall electioneer or solicit votes for any political party, political body or candidate, nor shall any written or printed matter be posted up within the said room, except as required by this act.”

So it’s not what you wear to the polls in Pennsylvania. It’s what you say.

Derek Willis

Hundreds of Suburban Philadelphia Voters Still Haven’t Gotten Their Absentee Ballots

Several hundred voters in Montgomery County, Pa., outside Philadelphia, have complained to local party officials that they have yet to receive the absentee ballots they requested, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Completed absentee ballots must be submitted to the county’s election board by 5 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 4, raising the possibility that some voters may not receive their ballots in time. The Inquirer reported that a county spokeswoman said it is “current with absentee ballot requests.” A record number of Montgomery County voters — more than 29,000, according to local officials — asked for an absentee ballot for the Nov. 8 election.

That’s up from 23,069 ballots requested in the 2012 general election. More than 84 percent of Montgomery County voters who requested an absentee ballot in 2012 submitted their votes that way, the fifth-lowest percentage in the state.

Most Pennsylvanians vote in-person on Election Day, as there is no early voting in the state and absentee ballots account for a small percentage of voters. None of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties had even 10 percent of voters return an absentee ballot in 2012.

Derek Willis

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