BLAIR COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — The General Election is about two months away, and local election offices are prepping for the largest influx of mail-in ballots than ever before.
The Blair County Board of Elections states the May Primaries went smoothly, but the amount of labor that went into processing and sending out ballots would be even more difficult to do for this November.
Back in October 2019, Governor Wolf signed the Election Reform Bill to include new mail-in voting, and at that point, Blair County expected 5,000 to 6,000 ballots in that form.
As of the first week of September, that number is tripled for the upcoming election.
“We would not have 15,000 plus mail-in and absentee ballots if it weren’t for the COVID pandemic and keeping our voters safe in giving this as an option for them to not visit a polling place,” Blair County Chief Clerk Nicole Hemminger said.
On Tuesday, Blair County Commissioners unanimously approved a contract between the county and NPC Inc. in Claysburg, which will print and mail the ballots.
County Solicitor Nathan Karn said this agreement isn’t just about printing and mailing. It’s the whole process that would take a weight off the county’s shoulders.
“It would be very difficult for the county to be able to provide, at least at this time, without the ability to have a full year to plan budget wise and so forth,” he said.
NPC Inc., which does secure government printing, is also contracted with Montgomery County to assist in the November election.
By using envelopes with windows and barcodes to be scanned, the company can put together the mail-in packages without identifying the voter or any of their information.
“By (using) barcodes, they’re able to verify if the ballot is either absentee or mail-in, that goes to the person that requested the ballot, and precinct, and all of that is lined up, so that there isn’t an error,” Karn said.
There’s also the issue with unsupervised ballot drop off boxes.
Blair County will not have them available for voters, so if you use mail-in or absentee options, you can either mail the ballot to the elections office or bring it in person to at the courthouse.