Bipartisan Group Fights for Safe, Accessible PA Voting
Nov. 3 is shaping up as a once-in-a-lifetime election. Whether you plan to vote for Vice President Joe Biden or President Donald Trump, one thing is clear – Pennsylvania is a battleground state and the eyes of the nation will be watching us come Election Day.
That’s why Ceisler Media is working with clients like VoteSafe Pennsylvania and other advocacy organizations that are working to encourage civic engagement.
VoteSafe Pennsylvania is a coalition of community leaders, advocates, nonprofit organizations, corporations, chambers of commerce, party leaders and elected officials. Its co-chairs are one Democratic – former Congressman and U.S. Army Undersecretary Patrick Murphy – and one Republican – former PA House Majority Leader Dave Reed.
Every living former Pennsylvania governor is a member of the coalition, as are nearly 60 other former and current elected officials. Prominent sports figures serve as the coalition’s community ambassadors to generate civic engagement among folks that might otherwise ignore what politicians have to say. NFL Legend and four-time Steeler Super Bowl champion Franco Harris serves as Community Ambassador Chair.
So, how did the diverse group of public figures come together to agree on something? Well, VoteSafe Pennsylvania is a coalition whose three goals are practical and based on common sense:
First, encourage every Pennsylvanian to vote in the election, regardless of political affiliation.
Second, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, make sure all voters have accessible, secure mail-in ballots and safe, in-person voting sites.
And third, ensure, through Congress, that Pennsylvania has the resources necessary to protect voters and the election.
Nearly 200,000 Americans have died as a result of the coronavirus, and the risk is not soon going away. Physicians, medical experts and scientists warn of a second, potentially larger, wave of infections this fall. It would be irresponsible to ignore science. Millions of Pennsylvanians want to vote – but don’t want to risk their health standing in line at their polling location.
So members of VoteSafe Pennsylvania are working to make sure residents know their voting options under the state’s constitution and by county election laws. Through changes in the law, all Pennsylvanians now have the right to request a mail-in ballot if they prefer not to vote in person. In our state, an absentee ballot and a mail-in ballot is a distinction without a difference.
If you plan to vote by mail, make sure you request your ballot early, complete it and mail it back as soon as possible. In doing so, you help alleviate the burden on the United States Postal Service. Plus, your local post office and mail carrier will undoubtedly appreciate your timely effort.
During the June primary, which was pushed back due to the pandemic, more than 2.8 million Pennsylvanians voted. Of that total, more than 1.4 million ( 51 percent), voted with mail-in ballots, making it for the first time in our state’s history that in-person voting was eclipsed by votes received by mail.
There are countless forces at work outside of Pennsylvania trying to spread misinformation about mail-in ballots. Contrary to rumors and allegations, mail-in ballots do not favor either political party, nor are they rife for fraud and abuse. The Heritage Foundation, a D.C.-based conservative think-tank, diminishes claims of existing widespread fraud. Of the approximately 250 million mail ballots cast nationally over the last 20 years, the group found just 1,296 voter fraud cases.
Regardless of who you plan to vote for or what voting method you choose, Pennsylvanians should feel confident that the upcoming election will be safe and secure.
Caitlin O’Connor is a Senior Associate in Ceisler Media's Pittsburgh Office.