Action News Data: Huge disparities found among Pa. voters for mail-in ballot wait times

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Wednesday, May 27, 2020
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Many Pa. residents have expressed concerns with absentee ballots.

HAVERFORD TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Ten days of waiting and Montgomery County resident Kelly Hines still doesn't have her absentee ballot.

She's concerned her vote won't count.

"I received another email yesterday stating that there could be issues with the postal service, and of course with the pandemic that is causing the delay," she said.

Like many voters, Hines is worried about the pandemic.

"I just didn't want to go and be with crowds in lines. If I could avoid it, that is what I wanted to do," Hines said.

According to election data analyzed by Action News, Montgomery County has the second most applications with over 161,000 in the five-county area of greater Philadelphia, and an average wait time of 11 days. Delaware County has the longest wait time in the state at three weeks.

The state average is just over seven days. Delaware County officials tell Action News it's working to complete 6,000 applications by Thursday.

Montgomery County has just 125 outstanding.

"It is challenging to have an election during a pandemic and we are doing everything possible that we can to make sure everyone's votes are counted," said Ken Lawrence, a Montgomery County commissioner.

Even if Hines gets her ballot tomorrow, she has a critical question about the election-night deadline.

"I think that is the date it is still concerning to me they wouldn't get it and my vote wouldn't count," she said.

If possible, Montgomery County officials says voters should drop their absentee ballot at any of the five locations detailed on Montgomery County's website.

Delaware County allows absentee ballots to be dropped at any polling location.

Options that may prove difficult for some voters who need absentee ballots because they don't have such options.

"I think they would need to start this ahead of time and I also think the time frame from when you are allowed to say, 'Yes, I want to vote by mail,' and then the time frame from when it needs to be returned is not large enough," Hines said.

The Pennsylvania Department of Voting and Elections says if you didn't get your absentee ballot, you can vote by provisional ballot at your polling location but that's of little help to some voters.


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