By John L. Micek
For the Pittsburgh Current
After a whole bunch of back-and-forth, it looks like state lawmakers are moving ahead with legislation that would move the date of Pennsylvania’s April 28 election — a move that could turn into a major headache for office-seekers up and down the ballot, who are already dealing with a coronavirus-interrupted campaign season.
The Philadelphia Inquirer is reporting that a deal has been made to move the Pa. Primary to June 2.
His Democratic counterpart on the committee, State Rep. Kevin Boyle of Philadelphia, confirmed the deal.
“We’re still on track to move election day to June 2,” state Rep. Kevin Boyle(D-Philadelphia) told the paper, calling the effort bipartisan.
As our friends at the Associated Press report, the House State Government Committee could vote on a primary bill as soon as Monday, get the bill through the Republican-controlled House this week, and off to the majority-GOP Senate for action. Wolf administration officials have been saying for days now that discussions about moving the primary, which is now almost comically late in the presidential nominating season, had been ongoing.
Speaking to the AP, House State Government Committee Chairman Garth Everett, R-Lycoming, said he believes the bill, which would move the spring canvass to June 2, has bipartisan backing.
“We want to get ahead of the game, rather than the Ohio example, where we pull the trigger at the last minute and scramble around,” Everett told the AP. “We want to do it in organized fashion.”
As the AP notes, “With the virus spreading and Wolf asking residents to stay in their homes, election directors don’t see how they can get ballots printed and poll workers hired and trained to conduct a primary on April 28.”
Meanwhile, it also looks like there’s some movement on a proposal that would allow for speedier processing of mail-in ballots.
From the AP:
“Pennsylvania’s five-month-old mail-in ballot law lets any voter cast a ballot by mail. But Everett said usage of mail-in ballots will far exceed earlier projections of 20% because of the coronavirus.
“To help county election directors process the crush of mail-in ballots, Everett said he wants the legislation to allow them to process the ballots in advance, to verify that the ballot is valid, and then start counting them at 8 a.m. on Election Day.
[Gov. Tom] Wolf, a Democrat, has said that he is working with lawmakers on it, but has not said exactly what sort of changes he will support.”
In a wide-ranging online news conference on Sunday night, Wolf said he had not reached an agreement with lawmakers on moving the spring election, but he did note that lawmakers appeared to recognize the necessity for moving it.
John L. Micek is the editor of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star, where this story first appeared.