The deadline for ballots was extended to June 9 at 5 pm. in Philadelphia.

Credit: Sophia Swidey

Arrears and delays in receiving ballots can prevent some people from casting their votes in the June 2 election, despite an extension of one week from the deadline for receiving ballots.

Pennsylvania late mainly from April 28 to June 2 in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, and pushed voters to vote by letter. Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf issues executive order Monday night extended the deadline for the election office to receive ballots in one week. Although voters who are not present can now send their ballots until 2 June, some Penn students who submit ballots from outside the country may still not be able to vote because of the delay in receiving their ballots.

For their votes to be counted, student ballots must be postmarked before June 2 and received by the election office no later than 5 pm. EDT on June 9. Although voters with Pennsylvania I.D. can apply for online ballots, student voters from abroad are asked to print, fill out, and send ballot request forms to the election office no later than 5 pm. EDT on May 26 to receive their ballot in the mail.

Wolf’s executive orders be extended deadline for election offices to receive ballot papers from June 2 to June 9 in six districts. This order applies to the Philadelphia Territory, as well as the Allegheny, Dauphin, Delaware, Erie, and Montgomery Regions. The order came amid a coronavirus pandemic, and after three days of protests and civil unrest in Philadelphia.

The surge in demand for ballots has been overwhelmed the election office, resulting in a delay in sending ballots to voters. More 1.8 million Pennsylvania voters have submitted ballots since the beginning of the pandemic.

Voters may not receive their ballots for more than a week after sending the application, and many may not receive their ballots until after the June 2 deadline for sending ballots.

Junior Rising College and Penn Leads the Vote co-director Harrison Feinman is currently at home in California, but is registered to vote in Pennsylvania. Feinman said he applied for the ballot in mid-March, received it in mid-May, and sent it to the Philadelphia election office shortly after.

Although Feinman received his ballot early enough to send it before the June 2 deadline, he said he was worried that the pile in the election office would prevent many students from voting.

“I’m 100% sure, and so are the experts, that there will be ballots that don’t count because [they] only [don’t] arrived on time, “Feinman said.

Junior and PLTV vice director Wharton is on the rise and field organizer Rania Zakaria said she requested the online ballot application in mid-May, because she did not have a printer at home and could not print and send the application. He said he received the application just days before the due date at the election office. As of May 30, he hasn’t received the ballot papers.

Zakaria said he felt frustrated that he might not be able to vote in primary Pennsylvania, even with an extension, because of circumstances beyond his control.

“It is very disappointing to now have tried to be absent and fail, not because I did something wrong or missed a deadline, but only because I didn’t send my ballots on time,” Zakaria said.

Possible warning second wave the corona virus in the fall has sparked concerns about a large-scale letter election in the November election. Honorable President of Political Science Professor Michael Jones-Correa said election officials could learn from the primaries to be better prepared to vote by letter in general elections.

Jones-Correa said election officials need to notify voters early about their deadlines for requesting ballots, and must send ballots to voters early so they can send them on time. He added that he hoped election officials would accommodate voters who did not have Internet access, and therefore could not request ballots online.

“Countries will learn a lot, hopefully, with this main experiment,” Jones-Correa said. “In some ways this is a dry step for what happened in November, and I think we all need to act early to have access to the ballot.”

Zakaria said that despite the difficulty of voting through the letter in this election, he hoped Penn students would not be discouraged to vote in the upcoming election. He quoted a learn from Tufts University, who found that Pennsylvania youth voters had the second biggest impact in 2016 elections among youth voters in all 50 states.

“Although it can be discouraging, it doesn’t make your voice less important or less worth listening to,” he said.

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