PA House OKs changes to mail-in voting in near-party line vote

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FILE – In this May 27, 2020, file photo, Bucks County commissioners Diane Ellis-Marseglia, left, and Robert Harvie unpack a new ballot drop box at the county’s administration building prior to the primary election in Doylestown, Pa. With the Trump administration openly trying to undermine mail-in voting this fall, some election officials around the country are hoping to bypass the Postal Service by installing lots of ballot drop boxes in libraries, community centers and other public places. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — In the shadow of an increasingly strident presidential campaign, Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives approved changes to the state’s fledgling mail-in voting law, but in highly partisan fashion Wednesday.

The Republican-penned bill passed, 112-90, on a near party-line vote in the battleground state where President Donald Trump’s campaign and the Democratic Party are already in court seeking favorable decisions on how Pennsylvania’s mail-in voting should be administered in the Nov. 3 election.

The vote came after a fruitless summer of discussions between Republican lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, on a compromise to fix gray areas and glitches exposed in the June 2 primary election in Pennsylvania’s mail-in voting law.

The bill still requires approval in the Senate, where Republicans have drafted nearly identical legislation.

One key aspect of the bill will allow counties to start processing mail-in ballots three days before Election Day to speed up vote-counting. Democrats, however, want to give counties more time, as many as 21 days before the election.

It also prescribes specific locations where voters can deliver mail-in ballots by hand: to a county courthouse, permanent election office and polling places on Election Day.

Democrats oppose that provision, too, saying that it effectively bans the drop boxes that Philadelphia and some southeastern Pennsylvania counties plan to use to help handle the avalanche of mail-in ballots in November.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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