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Pennsylvania moves to upgrade its mail-in voting process even as Trump objects to Pennsylvania's mail-in voting

Pennsylvania moves to upgrade its mail-in voting process even as Trump objects to Pennsylvania's mai
Pennsylvania moves to upgrade its mail-in voting process even as Trump objects to Pennsylvania's mai 03:14

HARRISBURG, Pa. (KDKA) -- At a time when former President Donald Trump continues to criticize mail-in ballots, the Shapiro administration announced Tuesday that mail-in ballot applications would be available two months earlier this year.

While the pandemic is over, mail-in ballots, approved by a Republican state legislature before COVID, are still popular, with over 1.2 million Pennsylvania voters voting by mail in the 2022 governor's race. That could increase to a third of all voters in this year's presidential election.

"It's always difficult to predict. With presidential elections, you generally have a higher turnout than in other election cycles. Generally, I would say it's been north of 30%," said Pa. Secretary of State Al Schmidt.

Schmidt, a Republican, and the top election official in the commonwealth, says his department has redesigned the application and ballot to minimize mistakes with a more voter-friendly website.

"One big change to it is that it's reworked in a way that is a lot more accessible. Another is we've made it available more than eight weeks earlier than last year," Schmidt added.

In 2022, nearly 24,000 mail-in ballots were rejected because many were received after election day, were unsigned, undated, dated incorrectly, or failed to use the secrecy envelope.

Schmidt says instructions are clearer, and the ballot uses different colors to help voters. As a result, the number of rejected ballots dropped 13% in the recent primary.

But voting by mail is opposed by former President Trump, as he noted when asked during a recent exclusive interview with KDKA-TV if he worries about this year's election in Pennsylvania.

Delano: What are those concerns?

Trump: Well, I absolutely do have concerns. Any time you have mail-ins, and any time you have the kinds of things we have in Pennsylvania, it's not concerns, we just have to stop it.

Ending mail-in voting won't happen; not this year, and Secretary Schmidt insists voting in this commonwealth has never been safer with a paper trail for every vote.

"Elections have changed a lot in the last several years, but they have never been more safe and secure, whether it's a voter-verified paper ballot record of your vote when you vote by mail, or when you vote in person, there's a voter-verified paper record that is used in not one, but two audits after every election," Schmidt said.

One big issue is the time it takes to count the ballots.

Because the legislature won't let counties start processing mail-in ballots until 7 a.m. on Election Day, some counties may not have results until late into the night or the next day. 

The closer the election, the longer it may take.

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