What To Expect At Polling Places in Tomorrow's Primaries
Unusual year brings tweaked procedures
Polling places will open bright and early at 7 a.m. for Tuesday's primary elections. As with everything else during this unusual year, in-person voters will have to be prepared for slightly different procedure than they're used to — possibly at an entirely different location.
That's because the bipartisan Act 12 of 2020 authorized the consolidation of Pennslyvania's polling places, meaning two or more precincts may share a single building. This was done to accommodate the projected decrease of available poll workers and in-person voters, as a record number of mail-in ballots are expected this year. Because of these special circumstances, mail-in votes will be counted at the opening of the polls and as they are received. Traditionally, precincts would not begin tabulating these results until the polls close at 8 p.m. All mail-in and absentee ballots can be dropped off at the Erie County Courthouse, 140 W. Sixth St., until this time.
Registered Democrats or Republicans (Independents cannot vote in the Pennsylvania primaries) opting to vote in-person should double-check to make sure their polling place hasn't changed, if they haven't been notified already. When arriving at the site, they should wear a mask, bring their own personal hand sanitizer and blue or black ink pen if possible, and be prepared to exercise patience as poll workers adjust to enhanced social distancing and sanitation protocols. Each polling place has been provided a protection kit with personal protective equipment (masks and gloves), hand sanitizer, and tape for marking off distances along the floor (other visual cues may define and regulate foot traffic patterns for workers and voters). Instructions and guidance will be provided throughout the process.
Erie County residents vote in-person via a touchscreen ballot marking device (disinfected between uses) or a handmarked paper ballot. If for some reason your name is not on the voter roster, you may be asked to fill out a provisional ballot while your eligibility is determined.
Be sure to exercise your right to vote, wherever and however you end up doing so — with any luck, November's general election will prove more familiar. For more information, visit votespa.com
Matt Swanseger (email@example.com) may waive his right to complimentary polling place snacks during the pandemic, but he will not waive his right to vote.