COMMONWEALTH -- As spring draws closer, the unpredictability of the election landscape in Pennsylvania only continues to grow.
Though there has been a decision made regarding the congressional maps that will be used in the commonwealth, there is still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the future of the state’s legislative maps. As the appeal period on the legislative maps closed on March 7, the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) filed an amicus brief with the PA Supreme Court to request the Court expedite its decision and to offer counties a reasonable amount of time to complete the tasks associated with the May Primary should it consider adjusting the election calendar with respect to the General Assembly’s seats.
“The longer it takes for these outstanding decisions to be made, the more pressure is put on counties and our election workers to stretch their resources ahead of the 2022 Primary Election,” said CCAP Executive Director Lisa Schaefer. “While CCAP does not take a position on the merits of the map before the Court, it was imperative that we educate the court about what counties need for a timely, clear and unified solution to run a smooth Primary Election, including maintaining a single Primary Election date for all contests.”
Counties are responsible for all aspects of running elections in Pennsylvania under the state’s Election Code. Under that law, a daunting number of tasks are still required of counties between now and May 17 – including preparing ballots for absentee, mail-in, military and overseas voters and programming voting machines, which cannot happen until candidates know for certain in what districts they are running, petitions are filed and all objections to those petitions resolved. This is in addition to other critical and ongoing work such as processing voter registrations, training poll workers, preparing poll books and other materials for polling places, and otherwise assisting voters.
“Pennsylvania counties have and will always administer accurate, fair and successful elections, but the longer it takes to achieve clarity around our Primary Election process, the more likely they will be forced to consider spending property taxpayer dollars on emergency assistance such as additional workers, printing needs and supply chain shortages,” said CCAP President and Bradford County commissioner Daryl Miller. “We can minimize this if counties just have clear, direct guidance on election protocol, as quickly as possible, and even more importantly, eliminate confusion and give our voters the utmost confidence in the integrity of the election process.”
County governments are responsible for a wide variety of critical services, including provision of human services (mental health, intellectual disabilities, juvenile justice, children and youth, long-term care, drug and alcohol services, housing) to people in need in our communities. In addition, counties are responsible for emergency management and 911 services, administration of the courts and corrections system, elections, maintenance of county bridges, and the county property assessment rolls, and also are involved in environmental and land use planning, protection of open space and community and economic development.