With Election Day less than a month away, some mail-in voters are antsy because they haven’t received their ballots yet.
Be patient, says Michael L. Anderson, director and chief clerk for Lebanon County’s Bureau of Elections and Voter Registration.
“I wish I could say something that would people at ease,” he said Tuesday. “Patience is the key. I know that’s not easy right now with this type of election, but there’s no conspiracy. They’re all out now.”
Anderson’s office has processed all of the 20,000-some applications for mail-in ballots that came into his office prior to Oct. 8, he said. That means now, they’re only fulfilling new applications.
But even some of the people whose ballots went out in the first batch haven’t gotten them yet, Anderson conceded, and he said no mail on Oct. 12 slowed things down a bit.
“But we’re asking people to be patient,” he said. “If they don’t have them by Friday, give us a call. We can look at reissuing them.”
“I’m really trying to keep it one person, one ballot,” he added. “But that doesn’t mean I won’t reissue.”
Everyone who requested a mail-in ballot should receive an email letting them know it’s on its way, Anderson said. In some cases, he said, people received two emails instead of one.
The deadline for requesting a mail-in ballot is still Oct. 27, but Anderson encourages people not to wait to the last minute.
His office is sometimes getting hundreds of requests each day, he said — and many of those are duplicate requests from people worried about not getting their ballots yet.
“It varies,” he said. “There’s no rhyme or reason to it. We’ve had days that have been very heavy, and days that are very light.”
Some 23,000 Lebanon County voters have now indicated they’ll be voting by mail, Anderson said. And his office is already receiving completed ballots, some through the mail and others via the locked dropbox outside his office at 400 S. 8th St.
That number compares to approximately 4,000 mail-in ballots in the presidential election of 2016, and about 15,000 mail-in ballots in the May primary.
The dropbox will be available outside the Lebanon Municipal Building between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekdays.
“I think we’re up to 600 or 700 completed ballots that have come back so far,” Anderson said.
He is also voting by mail — in part to demonstrate his confidence in the process — and said he received his ballot on Oct. 7 and returned it by post the next day. He anticipates it arriving at the office later this week.
“The goal is, anything received before Nov. 1 will be counted on Election Day and will be posted that night,” Anderson explained. “We can’t touch those ballots until 7 o’clock on Nov. 3.”
Currently, he noted, mail-in ballots can be accepted and counted as long as they’re postmarked by three days after the election, but he encouraged voters not to wait that long.
“That’s being challenged, so don’t rely on that,” he said.
He also reminded voters to read the instructions to ensure their ballots are counted. For instance, “naked ballots” — those mailed without the internal “secrecy” envelope — will for the first time this year not be counted. Lebanon County had in the past counted those ballots, but a recent court ruling said they must be discarded.
It’s not hard to tell, even unopened, if a ballot is naked, and Anderson said he’s noticed at least two so far that came in without the secrecy envelope.
Anyone who realizes too late that they mailed a naked ballot will have to come into the Voter Registration office before Election Day to correct it, he said.
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