Pennsylvania to delay primary election as coronavirus spreads

Pennsylvania to delay primary election as coronavirus spreads
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Pennsylvania lawmakers on Wednesday voted to delay the state’s April 28 primary election by five weeks to June 2 amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The measure passed both houses of the state’s Republican-controlled legislature Wednesday, The Associated Press reported. 

The bill will now be sent to Gov. Tom Wolf (D), who is expected the sign it into law. Wolf and lawmakers reached an agreement to postpone the primary on Sunday, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

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Pennsylvania joins over 10 states in delaying their primaries amid the pandemic. 

Wolf and lawmakers also approved legislation last year giving all Pennsylvania voters the option to mail in a ballot.

Pennsylvania state Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman (R) said Wolf has not confirmed to him whether the surge of coronavirus cases in Pennsylvania could lessen by the new primary date, allowing voters to cast their ballots in-person.

“That’s the million-dollar question, or billion or maybe trillion now with the numbers we’re talking about in Washington, D.C.,” Corman told reporters, the AP reported.

The Democratic Party’s presidential delegate selection rules mandate that primaries cannot be held later than June 16, according to the outlet.

State Rep. Kevin Boyle (D) told the AP that Republican lawmakers blocked additional funds for counties to send mail-in ballot applications to every registered voter, calling for lawmakers to consider the proposal in “weeks to come.”

The legislation also lets counties combine separate polling places because some are currently located within nursing homes, putting older residents at risk. It also allows election workers to begin at 7 a.m. on election days instead of after polling closes, allowing them to avoid potential backups that could extend vote counting, the AP reported.