With presidential hopefuls including South Bend Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg and billionaire businessman Mike Bloomberg recently dropping out of the race, revised ballots for the primary election were presented to the county commissioners Thursday by Michael Anderson, chief clerk and director of the Lebanon County Bureau of Elections and Voter Registration
Elizabeth Warren will still be on the ballot, not having yet dropped out by the Pennsylvania deadline.
Anderson asked approval of the new ballot and told the commissioners of a few changes for the April 28 primary election.
Four county polling places will be changed, effective April 28.
They are: Lebanon First Ward Middle, which meets in the GSH David Broderic Building, will be moving to the Lebanon Church of the Brethren, 400 Locust St, Lebanon.
Lebanon Sixth Ward: now meeting in the St. Benedict Parish Center, will be moving to the Lebanon Community Health Center at 920 Church St.
The voting will take place in the meeting room, not where patients are seen, Anderson said.
Bethel, Mount Zion: moving from the Mount Zion Fire Company Engine House to the Mount Zion Fire Company Social Hall, 1520 Mr. Zion Road.
South Annville: leaving the South Annville Community Building and moving to Fontana Chapel at 22 Fontana Avenue, Lebanon.
The same check-in for identification will be a part of the process, but voters will have the choice of a paper ballot or the use of a voting machine.
In the prior election, workers asked each voter which option they wanted to use to vote.
Starting with the primary, signs will be posted informing voters than they can either use the paper ballot or the voting machine.
“That will streamline the process; having them tell us whether they want a paper ballot or to use the machine,” Anderson said. “You’ll be given a paper ballot unless you ask to use a machine; it speeds up the process.”
Pennsylvania has a closed primary, so voters have to identify themselves as being either Democrat or Republican to vote.
So, for the primary in April, after voters sign in, they get a voter-ready card that states Democrat or Republican and they hand that card to a poll worker, who will give them a pre-printed paper ballot.
Voters fill out the ballot and put the ballot through the scanner.
In November, voters will still receive a voter-ready activation card, but the poll worker isn’t needed to hand them a specific Democrat or Republican ballot.
It’s simply a procedural change, Anderson said.
“They can always alert a poll worker if they need help,” Anderson said,
Another change is the purchase of privacy screens to go over the sides of the scanners.
“One of the biggest complaints we had is that people thought others could see who they were voting for,” Anderson said.
Instructions will be on the screen describing how to insert the ballot, and while election workers will be on hand to offer help, they won’t be standing too close to the voter, Anderson said.
Voters will also be given folders in which to place their ballot, if they choose, Anderson said.
“We take the privacy issue very seriously,” Anderson said.
Five locations in the county will receive two scanners to use.
They are: The Sacred Heart Parish Center for Cornwall North; the North Lebanon Township Building for North Lebanon Middle; the Ebenezer Fire Company for North Lebanon West; Londonderry Village for N. Londonderry East; and the Community Bible Church for South Londonderry North.
Because the fairly new Act 77 gives people the option to vote from home, Anderson said they believe that will alleviate some of the crowds on election night.
The Pennsylvania Constitution allows for absentee ballots for people who won’t be in their precinct or area on election day or for people who have a physical disability that hinders their ability to get to a polling place.
People need an excuse to be able to use the absentee ballot, Anderson explained.
“We’ve always had absentee ballots, but what’s new with Act 77 is that the mail-in ballot doesn’t require an excuse,” Anderson said. “You just fill out a different application and mail it in.”
The state opened an online site a few weeks ago for folks to fill out an application online for either the absentee or mail-in vote, Anderson said.
To do so, applicants will need a driver’s license or identification issued by PennDOT.
To get an application, people can go to: votespa.com.
You can request a mail-in or absentee ballot 50 days before an election through Act 77, and the deadline this year to fill out an application is April 21.
Canvassing can’t start until the polls close, after 8 p.m. on election night, and on Wednesday morning, a public meeting will be held so that all ballots can be adequately addressed, Anderson said.
County Commissioner Chairman Bob Phillips offered Anderson and his crew the county commissioners’ meeting room for that purpose.
So, beginning at 9 a.m., Wednesday April 29, the process will take place in Room 209 of the municipal building.
Canvassing, opening, and scanning the ballots will take a lot of time, Anderson said.
“There have been a whole lot of changes for us,” Anderson said.
Canvassing is calling out the name of the person who voted by absentee or mail-in ballot, to see if there is any objection to that person’s vote being counted.
The voter’s name will be on an outside envelope, while the person’s vote will be in an inner envelope, called the secrecy envelope.
If there are no objections—and that’s only happened once in his years at the voting bureau, Anderson said—the ballot will be opened, scanned, and counted.
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Full Disclosure: The campaigns of Bill Ames, Bob Phillips, and Jo Ellen Litz were advertisers on LebTown during the previous election cycle. LebTown does not make editorial decisions based on advertising relationships and advertisers do not receive special editorial treatment. Learn more about advertising with LebTown here.