Philadelphia accepted a $10 million grant to increase access to voting in the upcoming November election as the demand for mail-in voting grows amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The grant, which was accepted on Thursday, will be used to buy vote-counting equipment, increase satellite election offices, and place drop boxes around the city to accommodate the increased demand for mail-in voting, CBS Philly reported. The Philadelphia City Commissioners voted to accept the grant from the Chicago-based Center for Tech and Civic Life on Thursday, CBS Philly reported.
About $5 million will be used to purchase equipment such as inserters, sorters, extractors, and scanners, which will be used to count mail-in ballots quicker to mitigate concerns of a prolonged presidential election result, CBS Philly reported. The New York Times reported in June that the result of the 2020 election, unless an especially decisive victory for either candidate, will not likely be known on Election Day. The results of some races in June's primary elections, including those in Kentucky and New York, were not immediately clear because of reduced polling places and a surge in mail-in voting.
Around $2 million will be used to open 15 satellite election offices, which are sites where people can register to vote, apply for a mail-in ballot, and drop off their completed ballots. Another $550,000 will be used to install 15 drop-boxes that are available 24 hours each day at every satellite office. The drop boxes will be safeguarded with 24-hour video surveillance, CBS Philly reported.
The grant was accepted several weeks after 1968 Wharton graduate and President Donald Trump’s campaign filed a lawsuit against Pennsylvania’s Secretary of State and County Election Boards, arguing that drop boxes, which were used in Pennsylvania's June 2 primary election, increased the risk of voter fraud and was unconstitutional. The state's Democratic Party accused Trump of aiming to suppress votes with the lawsuit.
Philadelphia plans to open more than 800 fully staffed polling places, compensating poll workers with hazard pay, CBS Philly reported. In the primary election, the city opened 190 polling locations.
Pennsylvania state officials also recently announced that the cost of stamps for mail-in ballots will be covered by the state in the November election — another move to make the voting process safer and more accessible.
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