Registration, mail-in deadlines coming quickly

PHOTO: Jack Tomczuk

Time is running out for voters to register for this month’s municipal primary and request a mail-in ballot.

Anyone who has not registered to vote has until 11:59 p.m. Monday to fill out an online application through the state’s website. Residents using paper forms must get their information to the City Commissioners Office by the end of the business day.

Voters who would rather make their selections from the comfort of their own home have until next Tuesday, May 11, to ask for a mail-in ballot. An application can be downloaded at www.philadelphiavotes.com.

On May 18, Philadelphians will be selecting their party’s candidates for district attorney, Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Superior Court and a litany of other judicial positions.

The Democratic primary for district attorney is the most-watched race, with incumbent progressive Larry Krasner being challenged by longtime prosecutor Carlos Vega.

Pennsylvania holds closed primaries, meaning only registered Democrats will be able to weigh in on whether Krasner or Vega advances to November’s general election.

However, independents and those registered under third parties in Philadelphia can still have a say on five ballot questions.

Two of the statewide questions that have drawn scrutiny would strip some power away from the governor during emergency situations, a response to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s actions during the coronavirus pandemic.

If the first question is approved, legislators in Harrisburg would be able to terminate an emergency declaration without having to get the governor’s signature. In effect, the measure would allow lawmakers to bypass the two-thirds majority needed to overturn a veto.

The second question would limit an emergency declaration to 21 days — it’s currently 90 — and state representatives and senators, not the governor, would have the power to extend it further.

A city-only measure would expand the Board of License and Inspection Review from a maximum of six members to nine members, which backers say will allow it to handle cases in a more timely fashion.

Though mail-in ballots are again expected to play a big role, election officials are encouraging poll workers to get inoculated against COVID-19, and the first vaccine clinic targeting those workers was held Saturday in West Philadelphia.

“Even if we get folks partially vaccinated before the primary, it is a step in the right direction,” Lisa Deeley, who chairs the City Commissioners, said in a statement last week.

Election workers will be on hand to collect mail ballots during two dozen drop-off events throughout this month, the commissioners said Friday.

This week, voters can submit their ballots at Overbrook Elementary School Wednesday between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.; Water Tower Recreation Center Thursday between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.; W.C. Longstreth Elementary School and Water Tower Rec Saturday between 9 and 11 a.m.; Alain Locke and Shawmont elementary schools Saturday between noon and 2 p.m.; and Overbrook Elementary and McMichael Park Saturday between 3 and 5 p.m.

Drop boxes that are open 24/7 have also been installed at 14 locations, and voters can apply for a mail-in ballot, fill it out and cast it during a single trip to City Hall’s Room 140.

More than 677,500 Pennsylvanians have applied to vote by mail, according to state officials.

Residents are only authorized to drop off their own ballot, unless they fill out paperwork designating another person to deliver it.

For more information, go to www.votespa.com or www.philadelphiavotes.com.

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