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State lawmakers, Wolf agree to postpone primary

HARRISBURG — Top Pennsylvania lawmakers and Gov. Tom Wolf have reached agreement on postponing the state’s primary election from April 28 until June 2, according to State Rep. Garth Everett (R., Lycoming).

Everett, who chairs the House State Government Committee, said an amendment of Senate Bill 422, the election code bill, was moved out of committee on Monday and hopefully will be amended today. It’s already passed the Senate and would then move on to the governor, Everett said.

“It’s on track to be signed by the governor by the end of the week and then county officials across the state will know that the primary has been moved,” Everett continued.

The deal was reached after multiple conference calls throughout the day Sunday, including with legislative leaders of the House and Senate caucuses of both parties and the governor’s office, Everett said.

Everett said, “everybody’s on the same page. There’s no partisanship. We’re just trying to work together.”

“My understanding as of right now is everybody’s on the same page,” he said Monday afternoon. “There’s no partisanship, we’re just trying to work together.”

There are two amendments, Everett said.

The first would postpone the primary election and authorize county election officials to close and consolidate polling places without the usual court approval. They say they need the flexibility, as they’ve lost polling places and poll workers due to concerns over the coronavirus.

The second change would allow elections officials to begin processing absentee ballots earlier. A recent law loosened the state’s restrictive absentee ballot rules to allow any voter to vote by mail, but it requires waiting until 8 p.m. Election Day to begin processing those ballots, which could mean elections would take days to call.

If the legislation passes and is signed by Wolf, Pennsylvania will join several other states in postponing their primaries, which in addition to the Democratic presidential nomination includes races for the U.S. House of Representatives and state House and Senate.

Everett said election officials were worried about asking voters to come out and vote due to the coronavirus, and also believed poll workers would not be willing to work the polls. As those problems mounted, county elections officials began urging the state to postpone the election.

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