Negotiations between the Republican-led legislature and Gov. Tom Wolf to let counties begin opening mail ballots in Pennsylvania before Election Day appeared to collapse Wednesday, setting up a potential nightmare scenario that some fear could leave the state counting millions of ballots for days after Nov. 3.
The Democratic governor and legislative leaders had been negotiating behind closed doors as recently as Tuesday to change the election code after months of inaction. But the General Assembly adjourned Wednesday and is not scheduled to reconvene until Nov. 10, a week after the election.
In adjourning, Republicans turned away pleas from county elections officials across the state, who said allowing them to open ballots before Election Day would reduce staffing strain and administrative headaches on top of whatever issues they’re dealing with during in-person voting.
Without a deal, the days-long process of counting mail ballots can’t begin until 7 a.m. on Election Day, potentially leaving the results unclear for days and opening room for candidates to falsely declare victory. Still, Pennsylvania’s top election official said Monday she’s confident the “overwhelming majority” of ballots would be counted by the Friday after Nov. 3.