by PublicSource Reporters
In the wake of the court decision deeming the governor’s coronavirus shutdown orders unconstitutional, Gov. Tom Wolf said during a press conference Tuesday that his administration intended to appeal the decision.
“I just want to point out what is not up for debate is that the early and decisive action that Secretary Levine, my administration and I took early on in this pandemic saved lives,” Wolf said.
The governor’s order — which included the closure of non-life-sustaining-businesses, a broad stay-at-home order and restrictions on the size of gatherings — was challenged in a May complaint from business owners, four Western Pennsylvania counties and conservative politicians.
In his opinion, U.S. District Judge William S. Stickman IV wrote that he believes the administration “undertook their actions in a well-intentioned effort to protect Pennsylvanians from the virus. However, good intentions toward a laudable end are not alone enough to uphold governmental action against a constitutional challenge.”
Wolf’s Tuesday remarks came as the death toll in the United States approached 200,000 with 193,904 COVID-related fatalities reported Tuesday, which he noted before calling on state lawmakers to pass legislation to make absentee voting this November more efficient.
Among the legislative changes Wolf is proposing:
- Allow counties to start pre-canvassing ballots 21 days before the election, rather than at 7 a.m. on Election Day. This, however, does not mean tabulating votes before the close of polls at 8 p.m.
- Give counties the flexibility to appoint poll worker vacancies earlier than five days before the election.
- Permit the counting of ballots postmarked on Election Day.
- Allow counties to send mail-in ballots 28 days before the election, rather than the 14 days currently permitted.
After nearly 1.5 million Pennsylvanians voted by mail in the June primary, Department of State Secretary Kathy Boockvar said she “would not be surprised” if 3 million did so for the presidential election. (For context, roughly 84,000 Pennsylvania voters cast absentee ballots in the last presidential primary.)
Because of an anticipated deluge of mail-in ballots, Boockvar urged voters to double check that they are approved to vote absentee in November and to mail their ballots in early.
COVID-19 case count
The Allegheny County Health Department [ACHD] reported 90 new COVID-19 infections Tuesday and one COVID-related fatality. The newly reported cases bring the total count since March 14 to 11,358 infections.
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