Pennsylvania election officials say they first learned last week that their new security measures blocking foreign access to state election sites were preventing voters abroad from accessing their absentee ballots. But voters living outside the country told the Inquirer and Daily News they had trouble much earlier. “Definitely I can tell you from my own experience, this happened in the May primary,” said Portia Kamons, 56, who lived in Southwestern Pennsylvania before moving to the United Kingdom nearly three decades ago. Kamons said she contacted the Pennsylvania Department of State and other officials to report the problem. When the state sent emails a few weeks ago directing voters to the same site — which remains blocked — Kamons said she was “hopping mad” that nothing had been done. Other users also reported being blocked from seeing election results in January and March on the state site and prevented from opening the voter registration page in October 2016.
In a statement Thursday afternoon, Department of State spokesperson Wanda Murren said that the department first learned of problems on Sept. 25 but that “the numbers were not inconsistent with error rates prior to previous elections.”
On Sept. 28, she continued, the Federal Voting Assistance Program “notified us that the issue appeared to be affecting more people from overseas than previously identified.”
“As soon as we became aware that some of those measures might be causing access problems for overseas voters, we began looking for alternative methods by which to deliver absentee ballots,” her statement said.