Social distancing will be enforced and face masks strongly encouraged at Lebanon County’s 60 polling places when they open at 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 2 for the rescheduled general primary election.
The primary was postponed from April 28 due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
Mail-in voting for everybody
Tuesday’s election will not only be the first conducted under restrictions designed to minimize the spread of the novel coronavirus, but also the first to allow universal mail-in voting.
Through May 27, 15,570 mail-in ballots had been sent to Lebanon Countians who requested them, and 7,950 completed ballots had been received by the Bureau of Elections and Voter Registration, according to Chief Clerk Michael Anderson.
As of May 22, over 1,700,000 Pennsylvanians had applied to vote by mail, according to Kathy Boockvar, Pennsylvania’s Secretary of the Commonwealth and the state’s top election official.
The May 26 deadline for completed mail-in ballots to be postmarked and mailed back has come and gone, but ballots can still be dropped off in person at the Lebanon Municipal Building at 400 S. 8th Street, until the polls close at 8:00 p.m. on election evening, according to Anderson.
Anderson said in an email that a lockbox at the Municipal Building’s back entrance is already available for ballot drop-offs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., Monday through Friday.
On election day — Tuesday, June 2 — that lockbox “will be in the front lobby [of the Municipal Building], where people vote,” according to Anderson.
Postmarks do not matter for mail-in ballots that are dropped in the lock box.
Anderson emphasized that mail-in ballots cannot be dropped off at individual polling places on election day — only at the Municipal Building lockbox.
COVID-19 safety precautions at polling places
As always, those choosing to vote in person on Tuesday will find themselves in an enclosed room with other people, most of who are likely to be strangers. All poll workers will be wearing masks for the protection of voters. Anderson and the County Commissioners have urged voters to also wear masks at polling places and to maintain social distancing, but they won’t deny anyone the right to vote.
Mail-in voting or not, there are some who have to be at polling places throughout election day.
“We are also asking everyone to please wear a mask out of respect for the poll workers,” Anderson added in an email to LebTown.
The Pennsylvania Department of State had announced that it is supplying “infection protection kits” to all counties to ensure safe polling places for poll workers and voters. The kits will include masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, floor marking tape, and other sanitizing supplies. There will be no cost to the counties.
In an email to LebTown on the morning of Thursday, May 28, Anderson said that his department still had not received any kits from the state, and that he expected to only receive enough for 40 of the 60 Lebanon County polling places.
Anderson emphasized that his department will have as much personal protective equipment as it can at all polling places, and that some masks will be available to voters who don’t bring their own, thanks to a team of 75 seamstresses headed by County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz.
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