Pennsylvania state officials recently announced that the cost of stamps for mail-in ballots will be covered by the state for November's general election.
The move by Governor Tom Wolf aims to provide more incentive for mail-in voting after the COVID-19 pandemic generated a higher interest in mailed-in ballots, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. Wolf's administration hopes the move will make the voting process safer, faster, and more accessible amid the pandemic.
Once voters apply for and receive a mail-in or absentee ballot in the mail, they will get a postage-paid ballot-return envelope, NBC10 Philadelphia reported.
The plan will likely cost several million dollars to cover the 55 cents cost for millions of ballots, which the administration hopes to pay for using money from federal emergency coronavirus aid, according to the Inquirer.
Seventeen states currently cover the cost of postage for mail-in ballots with several other states — including Florida and Ohio — considering making the switch, the Inquirer reported.
Advocates of the bill insist that the inclusion of the cost of stamps will help people get their ballots in more efficiently, NBC10 Philadelphia reported, as some of the decreases in state voter turnout may be the result of voters’ ballots not being counted on time.
Pennsylvania's coverage of the cost arrives amid the ongoing debate over the politicization of mail-in ballots. While Democrats have tried to expand access to voting by mail, state House Republicans have questioned the need to pre-pay for all ballot envelopes, the Inquirer reported.
When Wolf extended the deadline for mail-in ballots during the primary election in June, public reception was divided along party lines, with Democrats in favor of the decision and Republicans opposed to it.
Despite studies demonstrating that there is no partisan bias in mail-in ballots, a number of Republican officials, including 1968 Wharton Graduate and President Donald Trump, have expressed distaste for mail-in ballots, stating that they disproportionately benefit Democratic voters.
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