Gov. Tom Wolf put his signature on what has been described as the most significant change to Pennsylvania’s election laws in more than 80 years when they were written.
By signing the bill into law, registered voters will soon be able to cast their ballot from the convenience of their own home in every election – primary, general or special – without having to provide an excuse as to why they can’t make it to the polls on Election Day. Voters will be able to cast ballots by mail beginning with next year’s primary on April 28.
They also will be able register to vote as late as 15 days before an election, instead of the 30-day period that has been the rule for decades.
Further, they will be able to submit their mail-in or absentee ballot right up until 8 p.m. on the day of the election.
The law allows for a permanent mailing list for voters requesting to automatically receive an application for a mail-in or absentee ballot in another convenience.
Perhaps the most controversial change relates to eliminating “straight-party voting” – the option of pushing one button to vote for all the candidates in a single party in general elections. Voters will now have to check off their choice for every contest in the general election, as opposed to simply voting for all Democrats or all Republicans.