Election logo 2020

HARRISBURG – As the Oct. 19 deadline to register to vote, approaches, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said Friday it’s possible that the state could hit an all-time high of 9 million registered voters ahead of the presidential election.

“I’m very optimistic we will hit 9 million by the deadline on Monday,” Boockvar said

By Friday, 8.98 million people had registered to vote, including just under 4.2 million Democrats, 3.5 million Republicans and almost 1.3 million other voters.

The state has already hit its all-time high for the number of registered voters ahead of a presidential election. The most registered voters previously had been in 2008 when there were 8.75 million registered voters.

The soaring registration numbers come as the state is also seeing unprecedented numbers of votes cast by mail.

This week, officials in Allegheny County announced that they’d mailed ballots with errors on them to 28,000 voters.

Boockvar said there is no reason to believe that voters would be able to vote more than once using the original ballot and the replacement ballots now being sent out. County officials would recognize if a voter tried to use one of the original ballots, she said.

“They are going to void out the old ballots,” she said. “Our system will pick it up if someone tried to vote” with both ballots, Boockvar said.

Deputy Secretary Jonathan Marks said that Allegheny County has set up an online search tool that voters can use to determine if they’ve received a ballot with an error on it.

More than 375,000 voters in Allegheny County have asked for mail-in ballots, according to state data.

Marks said that state officials have been in contact with the vendor, an Ohio company Midwest Direct, to ensure that similar mistakes don’t show up on other ballots.

“After all this gets fixed, gets resolved, we’ll have an after-action review,” he said, “to determine what steps can be put in place proactively in the future to ensure something like that doesn’t happen.”

Elsewhere, officials in Union County on Thursday announced that the county Republican Party won’t be providing volunteers to help that county pre-canvass mail-in ballots. Almost 6,100 Union County voters have already asked for mail-in ballots, according to state data. Democrats reacted by saying they will do the same.

Boockvar said she was unaware of the situation but said there’s no reason to believe that it would dramatically impact the county’s efforts to prepare mail-in ballots for counting.

“I think usually counties are perfectly able to find designated individuals to carry out their processes without volunteers from the parties,” Boockvar said. “I’m not aware of this being an issue anywhere else and I’m quite confident Union County will be able to find sufficient people to carry out the pre-canvassing processing,” she said.

By Friday, 2.7 million applications for mail-in ballots had been approved, and 683,000 mailed-ballots had already been submitted by voters.

Boockvar said that based on the number of mail-in ballots already sought by voters, state officials believe that there could be about 3 million mail-in ballots cast by Election Day.

“We’re right on track to be right around 3 million which was our guesstimate after the primary,” she said.

John Finnerty is based in Harrisburg and covers state government and politics. Follow him on Twitter @CNHIPA.

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