Proposal on when to start counting needs to advance

A bipartisan bill in the state Legislature would address perhaps the biggest headache of our most recent election.

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. David Argall and state Sen. Sharif Street, allows county officials to begin processing mail-in ballots three days before Election Day.

Current law blocks county workers from beginning the process before Election Day. In 2020, that created a log jam as the sizable increase of ballots strained county officials once counting began. This log jam led to unnecessary stress on county elections workers and delayed results, allowing people from the fringes to foment doubt, divisiveness and acrimony about our American system.

And it created these problems for no valid reason — there was never any logic for postponing the beginning of the counting. The mail-in ballots were in hand and ready. The expectation of the greater workload was entirely expected and the state Legislature had been repeatedly warned the problem was on the horizon.

As the Associated Press noted in an article published by the Sun-Gazette Saturday, this measure was one of the top priorities of county officials — the hard-working Pennsylvanians on the proverbial front lines of the issue.

The article noted the bill also contains provisions regarding drop boxes for mail-in ballots but does not address voter ID requirements.

We hope the Legislature has thorough debate on these aspects and all aspects of Pennsylvania’s voting laws and procedures. But we also hope that such debate does not derail this important measure regarding when the counting begins.

If that risk surfaces, we urge the Legislature to consider this measure as a single, stand-alone bill and to pass it by the widest margin.


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