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What Pennsylvania’s ‘Dry Run’ Election Could Reveal About November

  • June 02, 2020

The closing and consolidation of polling locations are also more likely to affect voters in predominantly minority neighborhoods. For example, in Penn Hills, a community on the outskirts of Pittsburgh that has a large black population, more than 50 polling locations are being consolidated into one location.

The online ballot application form is also available only in English.

To try to expand vote-by-mail in lower-income communities, the state Democratic Party has tested a program in Philadelphia for the primary, training ward leaders on new texting and calling software and bringing them into the mail-in ballot organizing effort. Since the party began the program, participation among African-Americans has jumped to 11 percent in ballot requests, Ms. Harris said.

“They’re an integral part of the Democratic machines in the city,” she said.

Republicans, too, are facing their own problems of absentee ballot mistrust. With the president constantly railing against vote-by-mail, some local officials are wondering about the effect on absentee voting, though they remain confident it won’t affect overall turnout.

“A lot of Republicans just don’t like the idea of mail-in ballots because of the opportunity for voter fraud,” said Dave Majernik, the vice chairman of the Allegheny County Republicans. “So some of them are just deliberately not using them and are going to show up at the polls for that reason.”

The president’s opposition to vote-by-mail has also put the state party in an awkward position of advocating the process in Pennsylvania yet denouncing it nationwide. On Facebook, the party boasts of forcing the state to “adopt safeguards” after “more and more Democrats signed up,” and asking voters to oppose “Pelosi’s national mail-in ballot.”

The Facebook post then directs users to the state party’s website, which is dedicated to helping voters through the absentee ballot system. When the link is shared on social media, a graphic about the “all new 2020 mail-in ballot” also says “Trump Backed. PAGOP Backed.”

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