State to fund postage for mail-in ballots

August 5, 2020 Cranberry Local News

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Pennsylvania voters who take advantage of the ability to mail in their ballots as well as absentee voters won’t be paying for the stamp to send their votes to the county Bureau of Elections for the 2020 General Election in November.

Kathy Boockvar, the state secretary of the commonwealth, announced Friday that the Pennsylvania Department of State will provide funding for postage, so all eligible voters can return their mail-in and absentee ballots for free.

“Our goal is to make voting as accessible, safe and easy for eligible voters as possible,” Boockvar said in a news release.

Eligible voters can apply for their mail-in or absentee ballot online, at the county elections bureau or by submitting paper forms in the mail.

Once the county elections bureau determines a voter is eligible, the state funding will allow counties to send a postage-paid envelope in which mail-in or absentee ballots can be returned.

The Department of State will work with counties to determine the easiest manner of implementing prepaid postage for November’s ballots, the release said.

Reimbursed metered postage, paying for “business reply mail” postage costs or reimbursement for stamps are being considered as ways to provide the funding.

In June’s primary election, the county elections bureau received 19,510 mail-in and absentee ballots.

At the regular 55-cent stamp rate, the state’s cost would be $10,730 for the same number of ballots as in the primary.

For metered mail, which is 50 cents per envelope, the cost would be $9,755.

The state reports that nearly 1.5 million voters used mail-in or absentee ballots in the June primary election.

“We are very pleased to be able to expand the accessibility and safety for eligible Pennsylvanians to participate in our democracy in this very important election,” Boockvar said.

Aaron Sheasley, the new director of the Butler County Bureau of Elections, could not be reached for comment.

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