I've made a few comments over the past few weeks about my difficulties in obtaining an absentee ballot from the Philadelphia County Board of Elections - the local office that distributes Pennsylvania absentee ballots. I sent in my absentee ballot application by Priority Mail (with Delivery Confirmation) on October 10. The USPS website confirms that they received it on October 14.
I have not, however, received my absentee ballot, and my three phone calls to the Board of Elections has not left me hopeful. I was repeatedly told that the office had been working long shifts to accomodate the massive and "unexpected" number of requests for absentee ballots.
It's time to sound the alarm bell. Friday is the deadline for absentee ballots to be received by the Philadelphia County Board of Elections, and there is no indication that they are planning to extend the deadline for receiving absentee ballots that were mailed out late. If all of the absentee voters in Philadelphia are having the problem that I am having, tens of thousands of Philadelphians could be, for all practical purposes, disenfranchised.
Philadelphia is, far and away, the largest county in Pennsylvania, containing 10-12% of the state's voters. It is also a Democratic stronghold. To be blunt, Barack Obama could lose Pennsylvania if he doesn't run up the score in Philadelphia County.
It is impossible for me to travel to Philadelphia on Election Day, which is why I did everything I was supposed to do in order to get an absentee ballot - indeed, I did much more than I needed to do, since I sent in my application nearly 3 weeks before the deadline and followed up 3 times when I didn't receive my ballot in a timely manner. Since my mailing address is in Maryland, transit time for the ballot to arrive should be just a couple days. But now, it looks like I won't have a ballot in time for my vote to be counted.
So if it happened to me - someone living less than 200 miles away who sent in his application 3 weeks early - then you can bet that it happened to thousands of other Philadelphians, the vast majority of whom are likely Obama voters.
This is it, folks - we need to act. I've already called the Obama field office in University City, but I have no clue what is being done about this - they might be too busy worrying about on-the-ground stuff to pay attention to absentee ballot issues. I can't get an extension of the Pennsylvania Absentee Ballot deadline on my own, but I'm sure someone here knows a lawyer who can. If the election comes down to Pennsylvania, this could be the difference.
It's time to act.
UPDATE: Edits made to reduce the alarmism somewhat. But if this election turns out to be closer than we expect, 10000 votes in PA could be a difference-maker.