Voters wait in long line to cast a ballot early in person — the last day for a mail ballot
Tuesday was the deadline to apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot. York Daily Record
A long line of voters wrapped around the portico of the York County Administrative Center at 5 p.m. Tuesday, the last day to apply for a mail ballot or to vote early in person before the Nov. 3 election.
Regina Bigelow of Springettsbury Township said she won't be able to go to the polls because she'll be working. She found out late Monday night that Tuesday was the deadline for voting early in person.
It involves applying for a mail-in ballot at the elections office, receiving one, filling it out and turning back in — all with one trip. Some voters have been opting to do that over receiving a ballot through the mail.
Bigelow said she couldn't find her voter's registration card, which she thought she needed. She called a friend, who informed her otherwise, and she hurried down to the county elections office.
"They said it's a long wait, but I'll wait as long as I have to," she said while standing in line outside.
Voters waited in line nearly 3 hours throughout Tuesday. When 5 p.m. rolled around, county officials allowed anyone who was still in line to move inside the building and locked the doors. Election staff would work into the evening to help the voters.
"This is actually great to see," President Commissioner Julie Wheeler said of the line of voters. "It's democracy."
Vice President Commissioner Doug Hoke gave credit to the staff for assisting voters.
"It's been unusual circumstances, but we're doing a great job," he said.
Governor Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar held a news conference Tuesday morning, reminding voters of the 5 p.m. deadline to apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot. They also urged voters to return their mail ballots in person immediately.
More than 3 million people have applied to cast their ballot through the mail, according to a news release.
The online application was expected to be cut off at 5 p.m., Boockvar said during the news conference.
When asked about the deadline and whether it would be extended for voters who have been waiting in line for hours, Boockvar said she didn't think the same rules apply as what is allowed at the polls. Voters who are in line when the polls close at 8 p.m. can stay because that is their last opportunity to cast a ballot.
"For this, it's not the same thing, because you still have another opportunity," she said. "So I urge people to go as early as possible today if they're going to go."
County election offices only have be open their set hours, she said. When asked if counties have discretion if a long line exists, Boockvar responded: "The application deadline is 5 p.m. today, and I think that that's the law."
Wheeler said it was the right thing to do to allow voters who were in line by 5 p.m. to still be able to apply for a mail ballot and cast it. The office normally closes at 4:30 p.m.
The last voter was finished around 7:38 p.m., county spokesman Mark Walters said.
Kitty Owens of Spring Garden Township said she thinks Pennsylvania should mail ballots to voters rather than making them fill out an application for one. Some states, such as Washington, mail ballots to registered voters.
"It makes more sense to send somebody a mail-in ballot to their home and let them vote from their home as long as their information matches," Owens said.
Skyelynn Davis of the York area said he thinks voting early in person is a cool idea. That way when Election Day comes, it's not as crowded.
"Good thing I have nothing else to do the rest of the day," Davis said, while waiting near the end of the line.