On today's program: Allegheny County solicitor Andy Szefi answers questions about voting ahead of the general election; and this year, voters might not know election results on election night.
About 29,000 misprinted ballots sent to voters in Allegheny County
(00:00 — 10:57)
Midwest Direct, an independent contractor hired by Allegheny County to print and mail ballots, sent out incorrect ballots to nearly 29,000 voters.
The issue was a collating error, says Allegheny County solicitor Andy Szefi. Affected voters should start to receive corrected ballots this week. They should fill out and return the corrected ballot, not the misprinted ballot.
Only one ballot will be counted for each voter. If an impacted voter does not receive their corrected ballot by October 26, Szefi recommends they contact the County Elections office.
If a voter has already returned an incorrect ballot, that ballot will be set aside. If no other ballot is received for that voter, the incorrect ballot will be counted for the races the voter was eligible to vote in.
“So for example, everyone who got a ballot has a presidential race on it, they have all the statewide row offices on them, those are the same for every voter in Allegheny County, so those votes count,” says Szefi.
Midwest Direct is the same company that sent out 50,000 faulty ballots in Ohio and was the cause of delays in sending out ballots in Westmoreland County. Szefi says Allegheny County has not yet determined if the county will use this contractor going forward, or if the contractor will be penalized.
You can check if your ballot was impacted here.
The deadline to register to vote is today, October 19, and the deadline to request a mail-in ballot is before 5 p.m. on October 27. Officials say voters should request and return their ballots as soon as possible. Find answers to more frequently asked questions about voting here.
“It might be time to think in terms of election week instead of election night,” says Pitt professor
(11:03 — 18:00)
Election results have typically been available on election night in recent memory. This year, election night might look a little different. After polls close at 8 p.m. on November 3, it could take days or even weeks to determine the winner of the presidential election.
According to Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar, nearly 2.5 million Pennsylvanians have already requested mail-in ballots for the general election. Pennsylvania does not start counting mail-in ballots earlier than 7 a.m. on November 3, which could delay election results.
But delays in counting ballots and tabulating votes should be expected and are not indicative of “bad” or “fraudulent” results, says Jessie Allen, an associate professor of law at the University of Pittsburgh.
“It doesn’t even mean that there’s anything going wrong in any sort of accidental way,” she says. “It’s just a product of this shift to a different way of casting ballots and counting them, and to some extent, legislation and procedures that haven’t caught up to that.”
Allen says people can expect presidential election results to start coming in from states that begin counting mail-in ballots before Election Day, as well as results for some local elections. She says it’s possible that the results of the presidential election will be available that night, but it’s also possible that people will have to wait to learn the outcome.
“It might be time to think in terms of election week instead of election night,” she says.
The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.