PITTSBURGH (KDKD) — The April 28 primary in Pennsylvania is still more than two months away.
But the Allegheny County Election Board — which includes County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and County Council members Sam DeMarco and Bethany Hallam — is trying to clear up some changes to the process.
A new state law threatens to cause a lot of confusion as voters head to the polls.
“Elections are national security now,” Julie Zavon of Squirrel Hill told the Allegheny County Election Board on Tuesday afternoon.
A new untested voting system has a lot of people worried, including the county’s chief executive.
“Another Iowa?” KDKA political editor Jon Delano asked Fitzgerald.
“If we have 150,000 or 200,000 mail-in or absentee ballots and you’re not allowed to start opening them until 8 o’clock at night when the polls close, it’s going to take a number of hours until you get that processed,” Fitzgerlad said.
The new law now allows everyone to vote in advance by mail, with those ballots counted in a central location after the polls close.
Officials worry it will slow the vote count into the next day.
“This is going to be quite an undertaking on election night,” warned David Voye, Allegheny County elections manager.
The county has purchased machines that can open 700 ballots a minute and scan 300 ballots a minute.
But a larger concern is training 6,500 poll workers and tens of thousands of voters on a new way of voting.
After you sign in at your polling place, you’re going to get a paper ballot.
You take this paper ballot into a private enclosure, where you mark the ballot by covering a circle.
And then you take the ballot and go over to a scanner.
You insert your ballot into the scanner, where the scanner will record the vote.
Then the ballot is dropped into a secured area, leaving a real paper trail.
Beginning next month, officials say local libraries and shopping malls should have demonstrations to help you practice.
Then watch for ads — nearly everywhere on TV, radio, billboards, PAT buses and even at the movies.
“We’re undertaking the largest advertising campaign that the county has ever done,” noted Kevin Evanto, chief marketing officer for Allegheny County.
The county has also launched a new website for election information, calling it a “one stop shop” for voters.