Residents Worry About Mail-In Voting Complications

Residents+Worry+About+Mail-In+Voting+Complications

Dakoda Carlson, Centurion Staff

Residents of Bucks County are concerned their votes in the 2020 election won’t count due to complications with voting.

The 2020 Presidential election have caused Americans to think twice about voting. Residents have expressed concern of mail in ballots, the new way of voting that was established after a voting reform.

The concern stemmed when President Donald Trump made multiple comments regarding the U.S. Postal Service and mail-in ballots. According to The New York Times, Trump said, “Mail ballots, they cheat,” and “Mail ballots are very dangerous for this country because of cheaters. They go collect them. They are fraudulent in many cases. They have to vote. They should have voter ID, by the way.”

In addition to Trump’s comments, there are also other concerns. During a previous election, the company that Bucks County hired for providing the paper for mail-in ballots provided the wrong size. That made it difficult to scan the ballots.

The county was also pulled into three election related lawsuits. According to Bucks County Commissioner Diane M Ellis-Marseglia, the lawsuits were a waste of “taxpayer and judicial time.”

“I believe they were filed to stir up distrust in the election system. Having said that the court’s ruling does provide us with validity in how to manage the election,” said Ellis-Marseglia.

These lawsuits were filed in federal court against Pennsylvania’s three federal districts, Eastern, Middle, and Western. Each district dealt with a different lawsuit. The eastern district examined the ballots and the lawsuit against Bucks County was dismissed. The resolution to the middle district’s lawsuit was put on hold till after the election. The western district also put the suit on hold. Its suit was focused on drop boxes, and related issues.

The concern regarding the mail-in-ballots were based on “absolutely nothing” according to Ellis-Marseglia and she believes that “it is people trying to cause distrust and fear in the election system.” These concerns were addressed and resolved during the recent meeting held by the Bucks County board of commissioners.

Ellis-Marseglia said there were concerns that the old machines could not perform a re-count, resulting in there being no way of verifying that the machine’s totals matched the actual vote totals.

According to Ellis-Marseglia, these concerns were brought to the previous Board of Commissioners in 2005, when they did not purchase new machines for the elections. Ellis-Marseglia voted to “purchase the paper ballot machines” that Bucks County began using for the primary election.

 

Commissioner Robert J. Harvie, the vice chair of the board, recalled that the only concern that was voiced by residents regarding elections in the past was about those old machines.

Residents have also expressed concern over security at the drop off locations. Ellis-Marseglia said this is not something to worry about.

“There will be a camera as well as a sheriff deputy watching the drop boxes to be sure a person only drops off their own single ballot,” she said. “We have put out a video to describe how to mail-in vote so that folks remember to use the secrecy envelope.”

The secrecy envelopes are very important in assuring that the vote is counted. According to Ellis-Marseglia, Bucks County has a very “meticulous system that is married to the State SURE system, that makes sure people get only one actual ballot mailed to them.”

This system helps to assure safety with your ballot and your vote. “The system logs in a request for mail-in ballot so a person cannot vote in person unless they bring that mail-in ballot to the poll and ask it to be spoiled” Ells-Marseglia said. “We check identifying information and signatures when we receive a request for a mail-in ballot and when we receive a mail-in ballot.”

According to Harvie, running an election is very complicated. A lot goes into how the county prepares for elections and assures safety. Harvie explained that a lot of work and time goes into the system and making it work.

Under state law, ballots cannot be opened until election-day. Another concern is that if any ballots aren’t sealed correctly, or don’t include a secrecy envelope, the vote may not be counted.

However, if done properly, residents votes will be counted. There is a very meticulous system when it comes to counting the ballots. Harvie stated that there are other ways to vote also, which relieves some of the publics concerns.

The board has done a lot of work to address concerns. There is a specific election portal located on the Bucks County website that when accessed, explains with detailed information about the election and the process of voting.

The board has also been creating and sending out educational and informational videos regarding these concerns. “The board works hard to get info out to as much outlets as we can. A lot of media stories, and news companies,” said Harvie.