Straight-party voting option a thing of the past

132,405 out of 212,365 Mongomery County voters filled in the circle to vote straight-party on November 5th. On the Democratic Party side, 87,031 voters making that choice. 45,330 Republicans made that choice.

Election Summary Report from Montgomery County. Represent unofficial results.

However, straight-party voting by filling in one circle is now a thing of the past. Governor Tom Wolf signed an election reform bill on October 31st that has a lot of reforms, including removing the straight-party voting option. Voters will now have to go through the entire ballot.

A press release from the Governor’s office outlines the other reforms:

No excuse mail-in voting
The law creates a new option to vote by mail without providing an excuse, which is currently required for voters using absentee ballots. Pennsylvania joins 31 other states and Washington, D.C. with mail-in voting that removes barriers to elections.

50-day mail-in voting period
All voters can request and submit their mail-in or absentee ballot up to 50 days before the election, which is the longest vote-by-mail period in the country.

Permanent mail-in and absentee ballot list
Voters can request to receive applications for mail-in or absentee ballots for all primary, general and special elections held in a given year. Counties will mail applications to voters on the list by the first Monday of each February. Voters who return an application will receive ballots for each election scheduled through the next February. Pennsylvania is the 12th state to provide voters with the automatic option.

15 more days to register to vote
The deadline to register to vote is extended to 15 days from 30 days before an election. Cutting the current deadline by half enables more people to participate in elections. The new more flexible and voter friendly deadlines provide more time to register to vote than 24 other states.

Extends mail-in and absentee submission deadlines
Voters can submit mail-in and absentee ballots until 8:00 p.m. on election day. The current deadline is 5:00 p.m. on the Friday before an election, which is the most restrictive in the country. Pennsylvanians submitted 195,378 absentee ballots in 2018, but 8,162 – more than four percent – missed the deadline and were rejected. The national average is only two percent.

The new law goes into effect for the April 2020 primary.