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October 28, 2020
Processing Absentee and Mail-in Ballots in Franklin County
One of the major provisions of Act 77 of 2019 was no-excuse mail-in balloting. A voter can now choose to vote by mail without needing a reason. Prior to this, only voters with a physical illness or disability or one absent from their municipality on election day was eligible to vote an absentee ballot. Mail-in ballots have proven to be especially popular this year with voters concerned about the COVID-19 virus.
Here are the comparison numbers from the past several Presidential Elections:
- 2012 General Election - 3,309 Absentee Ballots Issued
- 2016 General Election - 3,385 Absentee Ballots Issued
- 2020 General Election - 24,137 Absentee & Mail-in Ballots Issued (as of 10/28/20)
Given that we have approximately 101,000 registered voters, up to 24 percent of Franklin County voters may potentially vote prior to Election Day.
Under current law, counties cannot start pre-canvassing until election morning. Pre-canvassing is the processing of opening up first the declaration envelope, then the secrecy envelope and then removing the ballot and backfolding the multiple folds so that it lays as flat as possible. These ballots are then ready to be scanned into our high speed central scanner which counts approx. 4500 ballots per hour.
Given the fact that we may have approximately 24,000 thousand ballots to count, the County is anticipating this process taking multiple days. We have also been ordered to count ballots received up through Friday, November 6th which have a postmark of November 3rd or earlier or even an unreadable postmark date. In addition, military voters have up to a week after the election to get their voted ballots back to us as long as their ballot is postmarked by election day.
Each day we will be updating our election results, both on the County website as well as uploading our results to the state, until we have finished counting all of our ballots, including Provisional ballots, and have certified the results. This will be true for all Pennsylvania counties.
Photo courtesy of Voter Registration Office: Some of the 16,000+ absentee & mail-in ballots already returned for the Nov. 3rd. Presidential Election.
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