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What Allegheny County Voters Can Expect In The May Primary

Lucy Perkins
90.5 WESA

Election officials in Allegheny County say preparations are well underway ahead of the May 18 primary, and election day operations will look similar to years past, before the coronavirus pandemic hit last year.
“Voters in Allegheny County can expect to go back to their traditional 1,323 polling locations,” said elections manager Dave Voye. “They will be open on primary election day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and there will also be either mail-in or absentee voting.”

Last year, the pandemic forced election officials to make drastic last-minute changes to procedures in an effort to limit the spread of the coronavirus. In Allegheny County, most polls were closed, the county sent mail-in ballot registration forms to voters, and the election itself was pushed back by more than a month.

Voye said that while it’s always a challenge to find enough election workers to staff every polling place, the county has already secured around 1,200 of the roughly 6,600 people it needs.

“We’re working on the training schedule,” he said. “I think we’re a little ahead of the game.”

In the June 2020 primary, more than 200,000 people voted by mail or absentee ballot in Allegheny County, accounting for nearly two-thirds of all ballots cast.

Some of those voters may have checked a box on their application to be on the state’s permanent mail-in voting list. Voye said the county sent forms to those voters in February, asking if they’d like to receive mail in ballots again in 2021.

“The state calls it a permanent application but it’s really annual,” Voye said. “You have to reapply every year.”

Voye said voters who voted by mail last year, but want to vote in person this year, can show up at their polling place and do so.

The deadline to register to vote is May. The last day to request a mail-in or absentee ballot is May 11, and the primary is May 18. You can register or request a ballot at votespa.com.

The county will likely begin mailing out ballots around a month before the election, once the ballot has been finalized.

Lucy Perkins is an editor and also reports on federal government and elections for the Government and Accountability team. Before joining the WESA newsroom, she was an NPR producer in Washington, D.C., working on news programs like All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. You can reach her at lperkins@wesa.fm.
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