As with every election, the
The issues were worst in big cities -- which suffered the greatest effects from the coronavirus and, just as the election arrived, the largest protests against police brutality. In
But even with those issues,
Still, state and county officials and election advocates said that with the primary as a test case, there is more the state can do ahead of November's general election, when turnout is expected to be much higher and the fate of the presidency could hinge on
"The onus needs to be on our elected officials to make sure that voters can vote ... not on the voter," said
"That would help tremendously. We hope we'll be able to work with the legislature," she said in an interview. "Even if, say, the legislature doesn't want the actual scanning of the ballots to happen three weeks before
A number of Democratic and Republican county officials have also called for similar changes including
There's a growing fear that a delayed result in a close, charged presidential race could spark distrust, especially if the lead changes as the days, and count, go on. Areas of the state more friendly to President
"It plays into the narrative of rigging an election if you can't get it called quickly enough," said
Boockvar also hopes to automatically send voters mail ballot applications early, as soon as July, to allow lead time before November.
Several progressive voting-rights advocates called for more aggressive steps, but they could face resistance from
"If we expect the biggest turnout in election history for the general election, we are going to run across the same problems that we had in Philly and in
Even if they weren't on the same scale as
"We are going to see significant continued surges in the use of absentee mail ballots in November and we need to prepare for it," said
"Whatever stresses we saw in the primary, it is going to be double or more in November," she added.
Many of the issues, including long lines due to decreased polling places, hit communities of color that are already disproportionately disenfranchised, Weiser said.
"Black and brown people who had just suffered at the hands of the police then had to run the gauntlet to get to a place to drop off their ballots," Almeida said.
Garcia and Almeida were two of several progressive voting-rights advocates this week who called for new steps by the state legislature and county officials to smooth the voting process. Those proposals include automatically sending every registered voter a mail ballot to cut down on administrative work for voters and stretched election officials; opening "vote centers" in each county where any county resident could vote, providing a convenient location and reducing crowds on
Some 13,500 ballots in
Boockvar embraced some changes, and said that the state would distribute
But she said she won't lobby lawmakers for the ability to automatically send a mail ballot to every voter. In a state with little history of mail-in voting, she argued that would be too fast a transition, and requiring applications -- though it adds steps -- helps voters understand the process and fix problems like outdated addresses.
"It's an opportunity for us to give them information as they're applying," she said.
But he expressed skepticism about mailing ballots to every voter, saying it would add another expense amid tight budgets, and raised concerns about extending the deadline for returning mail ballots, citing the importance of prompt results.
As for counting ballots earlier, he said the forthcoming report will help lawmakers "understand the challenges associated with increased mail-in ballots, and what was the cause of any particular issues."
Election advocates argue that change needs to come even sooner.
"This was an election that gave us a lot of clarity about what could go wrong and what we need to fix for November," said Almeida, of
Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated
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