FACT CHECK: Do Pennsylvania Quarantine Letters Tell People They Can’t Vote On Election Day?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

A viral Facebook post claims voters are receiving letters from the Pennsylvania Department of Health saying that they must “remain quarantined and not vote in person” on Election Day.

Verdict: False

The letters do not mention Election Day. Pennsylvania voters who are unable to vote in person due to COVID-19 diagnosis or quarantine for possible exposure can complete an emergency absentee ballot and have a designee or county official return it by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

Fact Check:

The Wendy Bell Radio Facebook page made the claim Monday in an attempt to suggest that the Pennsylvania Department of Health is trying to suppress voters through letters “demanding” they quarantine on Election Day due to COVID-19 exposure.

“The letter states that they’ve been exposed to Covid-19 (no proof given) and, as such, must remain quarantined and not vote in person on election day,” the viral post reads, in part. “If they fail to obey the order, they face possible arrest.” (RELATED: No, Pennsylvania Did Not Reject 372,000 Mail-In Ballots)

The letter, which has been sent out since March, does not mention Election Day, though it does instruct people that have been exposed to COVID-19 to self-quarantine for 14 days. It also states that the health secretary can petition the court and, to the extent necessary, call upon law enforcement to “ensure your compliance with this directive,” according to a copy of the letter provided to Check Your Fact by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Maggi Mumma, the deputy press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, told Check Your Fact in an email that people who receive such a letter “would be a contact of a positive case and would have spoken to our contact tracers.” She also said that “Pennsylvania has not asked the court to order anyone to stay home for violating quarantine during this pandemic.”

Pennsylvania law ensures that people in quarantine can vote by using an emergency absentee ballot, Erie News Now reported. If such a person cannot find a representative to pick up and return their emergency ballot, the law requires the county election officials to have a sheriff’s deputy or other county official help provide and return the ballot materials, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said in a press release.

The voter or authorized representative must return the emergency absentee ballot to the county elections board by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

This fact check is available at IFCN’s 2020 US Elections FactChat #Chatbot on WhatsApp. Click here, for more.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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