Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar reported today that turnout in the Nov. 3 election set an apparent record, exceeding turnout in every presidential election since at least 1960, with more than 6.9 million Pennsylvanians voting by mail ballot or in person at the polls.
The election also apparently broke a record for highest percentage of participation by Pennsylvania’s voting-age population – 70.93 percent. This exceeded the previous record of 70.3 percent in 1960. By comparison, 6.115 million Pennsylvanians voted in the 2016 presidential election, the next highest turnout figure, when 61 percent of the voting age population voted.
“I am thrilled with the voter engagement and record turnout in this year’s election, which truly reflects the vitality of our democracy,” Secretary Boockvar said. “It is also a powerful credit to Pennsylvania’s dedicated election officials and poll workers, who worked incredibly hard to run a free, fair and secure election with no significant issues while contending with a pandemic, new mail-in ballot procedures and what is apparently the highest voter turnout in commonwealth history.”
Pennsylvania broke another record in October when voter registration topped 9 million for the first time.
Secretary Boockvar also reported that counties are nearing the end of the vote count and have made great progress in counting the large number of provisional ballots. Nearly 82,000 of the more than 100,000 provisional ballots cast at the polls on Election Day have been counted.
Provisional ballot counts take longer to count because bipartisan county boards of election must individually adjudicate each ballot to determine if it meets the standard for counting. They verify the voter was registered to vote in the precinct in which the ballot was cast and that the voter did not already cast a mail ballot.
More provisional ballots were cast in the Nov. 3 election because of the new procedures created under Act 77 of 2019 and Act 12 of 2020, two bipartisan election reform laws that facilitated voting by mail ballot in the commonwealth.
Because provisional ballots may be fully, partially, or not counted at all based on the circumstances, the number of provisional ballots counted will be smaller than the number of provisional ballots issued. Ballots may be partially counted if, for example, a voter was in the wrong precinct. In that case, they would be eligible to vote in the statewide races, and perhaps larger district or county races if they were in the same region, but might not be eligible to vote in certain local district races.
A county’s adjudication of a provisional ballot can be challenged by authorized representatives of each party and candidate. Once complete, a voter can find out whether their ballot was counted. More information on provisional ballots is available on the Department of State website: https://www.votespa.com/Voting-in-PA/Pages/Voting-by-Provisional-Ballot.aspx.
Counties also have made substantial progress in counting the nearly 28,500 uniformed and overseas civilian absentee (UOCAVA) ballots received by the November 10 deadline for receipt of UOCAVA ballots.