BUTLER, Pa. (KDKA) – The Pennsylvania Supreme Court says photo ID isn’t required to drop off a mail-in ballot and ballots can’t be thrown out because the signature on the envelope doesn’t match what’s on file. The problem: both were still happening in Butler County in the past week.
County commissioners now say they’ve changed their procedures to follow state law.
The stream of people coming in and out of the Butler Government Center on Friday was constant. The majority were walking with a ballot in hand, but now no one will have to show an ID to drop that ballot off.
“They don’t want to disenfranchise anybody by asking if they forgot their wallet, whatever, or they wouldn’t be able to put it in. They wanted to do away with that,” said County Commissioner Kevin Boozel.
Boozel said the county required photo ID in the primary election and had some calls of concern, but there was no resolution on what it should do after conversations with the state. Well, following the same identification process for the general election, the Secretary of State said she sent word to the county on Wednesday that the process goes against Pennsylvania law.
“It’s fine for you to ask if they are delivering their own ballot or for someone else as an authorized agent, but not to ask for an ID,” said PA Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar.
That wasn’t the only law the state said Butler County wasn’t following.
“When we receive the ballot and they run it through a scanned barcode, it pops up the voter’s registration on the screen and they are looking to make sure it’s the right person, the right address and beside that is a signature line,” Boozel said.
Boozel said the Bureau of Elections was comparing those signatures, but the state Supreme Court ruled last week a ballot cannot be rejected if the signature does not match.
“What the elections office is doing is just double checking. If they don’t match, they are just indicating, not pulling it away. It will still count, it will always count. I am comfortable in the fact that there are six identified ballots, those six we are looking at identifying them so if that federal lawsuit would be overturned, we wouldn’t have to go back, we’ve already done it,” Boozel said.
Boozel went on to say it was more of a precaution surrounding an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court for fear the county would have to go back through every ballot if the ruling changed. All those ballots were scanned in and will be counted.
Meanwhile, there are still thousands of ballots in Butler County listed as pending for voters who have already dropped them off. That means they have not yet been scanned at the Government Center.
The reason for the backup: the county was focused mailing out the ballots and is now turning its attention to the ballots already returned.