PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — With just eight weeks until the Pennsylvania primary, many county officials are worried.
“There are some real red flags that are happening,” Washington County Commissioner Nick Sherman told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Monday. “In the wake of what we saw in Iowa, where we didn’t know what was happening until well into the next day, I’m concerned that that’s what we are going to have here in Pennsylvania.”
Sherman likes the option — now open to all Pennsylvania voters — to vote by mail.
“Who wants to go stand out in the rain, stand in line. If you can simply fill out a form, they mail it to you, you mail it back in. That’s going to be the new way of voting,” Sherman said.
Pennsylvanians can request a ballot here and ballots should be mailed out by county election departments before the end of March.
All ballots must be returned by 8 p.m. on Election Day to a voter’s county election department.
Despite this convenience for voters, Sherman and many other officials are predicting problems ahead.
“We’ve never done this before in Pennsylvania,” said Washington County’s Election Director Melanie Ostrander.
The new state law that allows voters to go on-line to request a mail-in ballot does not allow election officials to open, prepare, and count these ballots until after polls close at 8 p.m.
And officials have eight days to count.
“It’s possible in a close election that you won’t know until that eighth day,” said Ostrander.
That’s because no one knows how many mail-in and absentee ballots to expect next month.
Besides the concern with counting these mail-in ballots on election night, here’s another concern for voters.
If you vote by mail, no matter what happens to the candidates, you’re stuck.
You cannot go to the polls and change your vote.
So if your favorite candidate drops out or does something you don’t like before election day, it’s too late.
“If you choose to vote by mail, you stick to that choice,” said Ostrander.