Election offices preparing for more voters to mail in ballots due to COVID-19 pandemic

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- We are just months away from the 2020 presidential election and the country is still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

As a result, many states are considering shifting to voting by mail. Experts say it could be a huge burden on the postal system and election offices.

"It may take some time for all those ballots to be counted that come flooding in on Election Day and in the days just immediately prior to Election Day, and it may not be that we will know who got the most votes in whole variety of constituencies until a few days or even weeks after Election Day - and that is going to be difficult for a lot people to accept," said Michael Hagen, Political Science Professor at Temple University.

Here in the tri-state area, any registered voter can apply to vote by mail.

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Keep in mind that in Pennsylvania and Delaware ballots must be received by 8pm on Election Day, November 3rd. In New Jersey, they must be postmarked by November 3rd but received by your county election office within 48 hours of the polls closing.

"The most important thing to do to make sure that your ballot gets counted is to get it in early," said Hagen.

Action News was there as workers in Delaware were mailing out applications for those who want to vote by mail. Election staff say they expect more mail-in ballots than in previous elections, but say they are prepared.

"With the experience that we encountered with the presidential primary, we had a lot of absentee ballots, more than we have ever had in the past. We had additional staff to help us with the process. We got some new machines to help us sort the ballots. So, we did not run into any undue delays," said Tracey Dixon, with New Castle County Department of Elections.

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Experts we talked to say while there is concern about voter fraud with mail-in ballots, there are safety measures in place, and add there is no information to show it would be a widespread problem.

"It would be wrong to say that it never happens but it doesn't happen on a big scale and it doesn't seem like it could happen on a big scale," said Hagen.

For more information about deadlines and rules for mail-in voting, check with County Elections Office.
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