Vote-by-mail appears to remain popular in Cumberland County for the upcoming 2021 primary, possibly indicating that vote-by-mail could continue to be a common practice even after the COVID-19 pandemic draws to a close.
The county’s bureau of elections reported late last week that over 12,000 applications for mail-in and absentee ballots had been received. The deadline to apply is May 11 for the May 18 primary.
Over 40,000 applications for mail-in ballots had been sent out automatically to voters who had opted to receive an application for every election.
Odd-year elections are typically low-turnout, especially for the primary; both the May 2017 and May 2019 contests saw less than 20 percent of registered voters cast ballots.
But this was at a time when absentee ballots, which require a reason for absence, were the only vote-by-mail option; in late 2019, the passage of Act 77 created a no-excuse application for mail-in voting.
Cumberland County has 182,067 registered voters as of this week, according to Pennsylvania Department of State data.
If all of the 12,000-plus voters who have already requested a vote-by-mail ballot return their ballot, this would constitute 7 percent turnout by itself, or roughly a third of the usual odd-year primary turnout.