In Allegheny County, 395,000 voters — almost half of the 900,000 registered — have applied for ballotsBy Andy Sheehan

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Almost half of all Pennsylvania voters are choosing to vote by mail this year.

Despite all of the controversies and anxieties that surround it, mail-in voting has dwarfed expectations here in our region and across the state.

“Almost 1.5 million Pennsylvanians have already cast their ballots. So that is just incredible,” said Kathy Boockvar, Pennsylvania secretary of state.

With that volume will come the gargantuan task of counting them all. This weekend is the final weekend for those who haven’t to cast their ballot at dropoff centers like the one at the Homewood-Brushton Center.

And to calm their nerves, Boockvar is advising voters to hurry to a mailbox or get in line.

“If you’ve already applied, once you get your ballot, do not wait in casting that ballot. I’m urging every Pennsylvanian who plans to vote by mail to complete and return your ballot this weekend, so they can feel confident that their ballot will be counted in time,” she said.

Statewide, about half the electorate is voting by mail. In Allegheny County, 395,000 voters — almost half of the 900,000 registered — have applied for ballots and 242,000 have already voted, which Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald attributes to the ease and safety of the mailing options.

“Having these satellite locations for the three weekends in October, allowing people to just vote by mail with the postage paid has opened up the elector rates ability for people to vote,” he said.

In the meantime, Boockvar said the state is on guard for the prospect of intimidation at the polls and elsewhere, though she has no reports of Pennsylvania voters receiving threatening emails from foreign powers as was revealed this week.

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“I want to remind everybody that voter intimidation is illegal under state and federal law and carries significant penalties. We will not tolerate it in Pennsylvania,” she said.