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PA Secretary of State Al Schmidt addresses voting concerns ahead of 2024 primary

Al Schmidt, former city commissioner of Philadelphia, testifies as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.
Susan Walsh
/
AP
Al Schmidt, former city commissioner of Philadelphia, testifies as the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

With the primary less than two months away, election workers are scrambling to ensure a safe and secure election.

Speaking from the Pennsylvania Press Club Luncheon Monday, Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt addressed concerns there wouldn’t be enough people working the polls.

“There’s been a significant turnover within the same counties,” he said. “And when that happens, that’s a real concern. When newer election administrators, and I was one for 10 years, are brought in, they’re more likely to make errors in conducting their very complicated and very important and highly scrutinized responsibilities.”

Schmidt said 70 election officials across the state have left.

The Department of State has hired a team headed by a former elections manager to help train counties.

Vote by mail has been a point of contention among Republicans with many, including former President Donald Trump, falsely claiming they lead to fraud.

Schmidt said the department has simplified the process with efforts such as color coordinating the envelopes ballots are to be put in.

He added there are guardrails to prevent voters from submitting multiple ballots.

“There is a voter verifiable paper ballot record of every vote that’s cast by every voter that is used in not one, but two audits after every single election,” he said.

Counties differ on how they receive mail-in ballots. In every instance, voters can send their ballot through the postal service. Some counties also have drop boxes while others, such as Lebanon, have chosen to get rid of them.

Schmidt supports more uniformity among methods of submitting ballots.

He also addressed concerns over automatic voter registration, which was implemented by Gov. Josh Shapiro back in September.

This allowed those registering for a driver’s license to register to vote at the same time.

He said that since the implementation, registration activity – which also includes updating addresses and changing party affiliations — has gone up 45%. He noted fraud is unlikely, as proof of citizenship is required when applying for a license.