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Allegheny County officials discuss preparations ahead of Nov. 2 election

Lucy Perkins
90.5 WESA

With less than two weeks to go, election officials are continuing preparations ahead of the Nov. 2 general election. All mail ballots have been sent out to the 137,924 voters who have requested them, and all ballot scanners have been tested and will be transported to the county’s 1,323 polling places next week.

But there was one “production hiccup” that officials addressed at Friday’s Board of Elections meeting. Officials say that a printing problem the elections division identified on Thursday affected 30 mail ballots — of the 36,094 ballots that have been returned.

According to election officials, the company NPC Inc. printed the name and barcode (which is unique to each ballot) on the internal secrecy envelope instead of the outer declaration envelope. That meant that when officials sent those 30 ballots through the scanner in order to be marked as "received," the machine couldn’t scan them, and those envelopes had to be manually entered into the system instead.

The ballots, and any others that the county receives with the same issue, have been segregated and the votes will be saved on a separate memory stick so they’re easily accessible.

Officials assured voters on Friday that anyone who mailed in a ballot with the printing error will still have their votes counted.

“Nobody’s going to be disenfranchised for an error they didn’t make,” said Allan Opsitnick, assistant county solicitor.

Voting information

A supervised, secure drop box for mail ballots will be available next week for voters who want to skip the post office and return their completed mail ballot in-person. Voters can only return their own mail ballots — not anyone else’s.

The drop box will be in the lobby of the County Office Building and will be accessible on weekdays beginning Wednesday, Oct. 27 from 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m., on Saturday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Sunday from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., and from 7 a.m.-8 p.m. on Election Day.

Tuesday, Oct. 26 is the last day to request a mail ballot ahead of the Nov. 2 election. Voters can request a ballot at vote.pa.gov. Allegheny County voters can also request a mail ballot, vote, and return it all in one trip by visiting the Allegheny County Elections Division office downtown.

Allegheny County’s 1,323 polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 2. Anyone in line at 8 p.m. is allowed to vote.

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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