About 26,000 people across Pennsylvania — 17,000 in Philadelphia alone — may not have received voter registration cards until after the November Presidential election because their voter registration applications were processed late, according to a new report released this week by a nonpartisan conglomerate of organizations that advocate for election reform. The report released by Keystone Votes, a group of about 40 organizations, cited data from the Pennsylvania Department of State and concluded that thousands of Pennsylvanians who attempted to register to vote on time may not have received any confirmation that their registration was approved prior to Nov. 8, 2016. The group also reported that due to the late processing, those people may have been “relegated” to supplemental voter rolls, instead of appearing in the main voter roll book at their polling location.
That doesn’t mean those 26,000 people were disenfranchised from the voting process. But Keystone Votes claims the handling could have presented barriers to voting. Patrick Christmas, the policy program manager at the Philadelphia-based, nonpartisan Committee of Seventy, said county election officials are responsible for processing these applications.
“In high-turnout, high-profile election years, thousands [of applications] are submitted, and it’s a challenge,” Christmas said. “But this is a tremendous number of forms that were not punched into the system on time.”
Analysts with Keystone Votes say they reviewed Department of State data requested by the Public Interest Law Center that indicated when voter registration applications were either approved or denied. They found that statewide, 55,708 applications weren’t finalized by counties until after Oct. 31, 2016. Of those, about 46 percent were eventually added to the rolls, and the remainder were deemed invalid, likely because the form was filled out incorrectly.