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The deadline extension to receive absentee or mail-in ballots came in response to recent protests and the coronavirus pandemic. Credit: Kylie Cooper

Due to the coronavirus pandemic and local civil unrest, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order on Monday night extending the deadline for elections offices in six counties to receive absentee or mail-in ballots in the primary election until June 9.

The extension applies to Philadelphia County, as well as Delaware, Montgomery, Allegheny, Dauphin, and Erie Counties. Elections offices must receive ballots by 5 p.m. EDT on June 9, one week after the original deadline. The deadline to hand deliver absentee or mail-in ballots remains 8 p.m. on June 2, and ballots must still be postmarked by the same date. 

The extension comes after a large amount of requests caused a backlog in sending mail-in ballots to voters, prompting fears that some voters may not have their votes counted if not received in time at elections offices. Over 1.8 million Pennsylvania voters have applied for a mail-in ballot since the start of the pandemic.

To facilitate absentee voting, Philadelphia set up boxes around the city on Saturday for residents to drop off their ballots by hand. Residents who do not receive their ballots early enough to mail them in can use these boxes to return their ballots. The ballots, however, will not be counted until the day after the election. 

Wolf's decision also comes after three days of protest across the city over the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. Since protests escalated on Saturday evening, Wolf has instituted mandatory citywide curfews on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday nights. On Sunday, Wolf called in the United States National Guard to quell unrest in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties.