PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Over 1.7 million Pennsylvanians have applied for mail-in ballots, as of Friday morning.
The program is so popular that the state’s top election official says she may send every voter an application for a mail-in ballot this November.
That comes as President Donald Trump threatens to withhold federal money from states that do that.
When Michigan announced it was sending applications for mail-in ballots to all its voters in both the August primary and November general election, President Trump warned of fraud and said he might halt federal aid.
Now, it looks like Pennsylvania might follow Michigan’s example.
“We are seriously considering it, yes,” Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Friday.
Boockvar, the state’s top election official, told KDKA that the Commonwealth might follow Allegheny County’s example — and Michigan, too — by mailing every voter in all 67 counties an application for a mail-in ballot this fall.
Delano: “Is that a decision you would make, or is it up to the legislature?”
Boockvar: “No, it is perfectly permissible under Pennsylvania law, so it’s really more about funding.”
Election officials say it could cost between $3.5 million (to send an application alone) and $8.0 million (to send an application plus pre-paid return envelope) to all registered voters.
There are just under 8.6 million voters currently registered.
“If we have the funding to do it, we will do it. And we will do it well in advance of November so that people can submit it earlier, and we don’t have to worry about getting down close to the deadlines,” says Boockvar.
Boockvar says there’s no history of fraud with absentee ballots.
“There’s not only no evidence that it’s problematic or causes fraud or allows for fraud. But it’s being embraced by everybody, especially at this time.”
And the top election official is not worried about presidential threats to withhold federal funds.
“I don’t think there are any grounds to condition federal funds on (us) taking action that is completely legal under state and federal law,” Boockvar says.