WEST CHESTER – Even with the number of COVID-19 infections falling and vaccination rates rising, voters in Chester County are still enjoying the opportunity to vote by mail in the May 18 primary election, officials say county elections.
Karen Barsoum, the newly installed head of the county electoral services office, said on Friday that more than 37,000 registered voters in the county had officially requested ballots which they could either mail to electoral services or drop off in the county. one of the many ballot boxes across the country. county.
Voters can request the ballots by mail until the end of work on Tuesday, May 11, a week before the primary, she said.
Barsoum said earlier this year the county sent letters asking the roughly 115,000 voters who applied for permanent status in the mail or absent in the November 2020 presidential election, asking if they would like to receive their ballots. to vote by mail in May.
She said it was not clear how many of those voters chose to continue the ‘stay at home’ option and how many of the 37,221 voters who had received ballots since April were new applicants in the mail. .
She also declined to speculate on why voters continued to request ballots in the mail – rather due to fear of the pandemic, the anticipation of being away from the county on May 18, or the simple ease of filling out and depositing ballots. mail or one of the county’s 13 secure drop-off locations.
âIt is more convenient for many people to participate in this way,â she voted, however.
The number of postal ballots requested is high because the normal voter turnout rate is much lower in municipal primary elections like this year than in presidential elections.
In 2017, the last time the county held a municipal primary – in which the offices include county offices, vacancies in the Common Advocacy Court and the local school board, supervisors, council and mayor are listed – just over 49,000 of the 363,000 voters in the county at the time. went to the polls. The requested postal ballot numbers show that a large percentage of voters are likely to stay away from polling stations in their communities.
(Those who receive ballots in the mail before polling day but decide to vote in person can do so if they bring their mailed ballots to the polling station with them, officials confirm.)
Those who demanded postal ballots continue to lean strongly in favor of registered Democrats, Barsoum said.
Of the 37,221 ballots sent so far this year, 24,836 went to Democrats, 8,279 to Republicans and 4,106 to those who are independent or registered with third parties. These âotherâ voters will be allowed to vote in the three questions of the Pennsylvania constitutional referendum included in the May 18 ballot.
Barsoum also released the breakdown of registration numbers for the county’s 369,060 voters. There is still a plurality of Democrats in the county, with 153,597 voters versus 149,348 Republicans and 66,115 others.
The secure drop boxes approved by the county election board last month are located at 12 county libraries, as well as the county government service center on Westtown Road in West Goshen, according to a press release.
Ten of the drop-off locations will be staffed during opening hours (9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.) Three drop-off locations will be monitored by video surveillance and will be available seven days a week around the clock. The locations of the video-secure drive-through drop-off boxes are the Henrietta Hankin Branch Library in West Vincent, the Chester County Library in West Whiteland, Government Services Center.
All drop boxes will be open on election day until 8 p.m.
âAs we did with the electoral process last year, we are taking steps to protect everyone from COVID-19 who votes in person on May 18, and to ensure that ballots submitted by mail , drop box or to our satellite office are delivered safely to our Election and Counted Services team, âsaid Commissioners Chairperson Marian Moskowitz in the press release.
Details of the location and opening time of the satellite election office and secure ballot boxes can be found on the Chester County Comprehensive Election Portal at www.chesco.org/elections. The portal includes an interactive map that allows voters to enter their address to find the satellite election office and secure the nearest drop-off locations.
All 230 constituencies in the county located in 191 polling stations will be open on election day.
Polling stations will be set up to ensure the maximum level of personal protection against COVID-19 for polling officers and the electoral public on primary election day. This includes clear 6-foot social distancing while waiting to vote and during voting; plexiglass screens; hand sanitizer and hand washing facilities; provision of masks, gloves and hygiene kits to all election officials; regular cleaning of enclosures and polling stations; and specialized disinfectant for scanners.
Those who arrive at the polls will have to wear masks, the county said.
To contact writer Michael P. Rellahan, call 610-696-1544.
To contact Michael P. Rellahan, editor, call 610-696-1544.