HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania will foot the cost of postage for voters to mail in ballots in November’s general election, officials said Friday, a move that Gov. Tom Wolf has made a priority as the coronavirus pandemic unexpectedly fueled high interest in voting by mail under a new state law.

The administration plans to use money from federal emergency coronavirus aid to foot the bill, which could run several million dollars to cover 55 cents for millions of ballots.

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Wolf’s top elections official, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, said paying for the postage is a way to make voting more accessible, safer and easier during the pandemic.

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Under the plan, voters who apply for and receive a mail-in or absentee ballot in the mail will also get a postage-paid ballot-return envelope. Each county will have options on how to carry that out, whether using stamps, a metered machine or a business-reply mail account linked to the state’s, Boockvar said.

The step by Wolf, a Democrat, comes as his administration and lawmakers discuss legislation to help counties deal with the expected avalanche of mailed-in ballots in a premier presidential battleground state.

Seventeen states cover postage for mail-in ballots, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. It is also the subject of a push in statehouses and courts in several other states.

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