PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There are a lot of questions hanging over Election Day beyond who will win. Safety at the polls from the Coronavirus and intimidation and the counting process top the list.
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald says they are ready, “The good news is we’re probably going to have less than half of the people that normally vote in person because most people, the vast majority have voted by mail. And that’s already occured. So over 400,000 people have gone through that process in an election in which last time we had 660,000 voters.”
As for making sure those coming out to vote are safe from the Coronavirus, Fitzgerald says, “First of all, all of our poll workers that will be working the tables will be wearing masks, they’ll have gloves and still have hand sanitizer. Just like you would if you go to a grocery store or go to the supermarket or go to a pharmacy. There will be markings on the floor for people to where they stand six feet apart as they as they get in line. One thing we’re asking people to do is, you know, go vote, and then leave. We don’t want to have big crowds congregating at the polling places the way we might in normal circumstances.”
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When it comes to the voters, Fitzgerald says, “We’re also asking the voters to be wearing masks. The voters don’t have to, but come on, these are your neighbors, these folks are sitting there for 13 hours. I think that the least you could do is wear a mask to go in and get checked in and get your ballot and vote.”
When it comes to preventing voter intimidation, the County Executive says, “At each polling place you have a judge of election who really is kind of in charge of their precinct. You also have a constable who will be at each polling place to deal with issues of that of that nature. If there are any reports of intimidation, go to the Judge of Election, they will call the Election Department, the Sheriff’s deputies will be dispatched, and there will be law enforcement that will be there to enforce the rules.”
Once the polls open at 7:00 on Tuesday morning, an army of election workers will begin processing all the mail-in ballots.
How fast that process will go is the unknown.
Fitzgerald says, “I don’t have that number, I don’t know that anybody has that number. This really the first time that we’ve done it to this to this level. I can tell you there’s a lot of personnel, that will be there through a system. I will call it an assembly line, you know, the beginning where they check it, the next process where they verify and open the first envelope. Then the second envelope is opened and the ballot flattened and fed into the counting machine. You’ve got high speed machines that are going to be running. If you know, there aren’t any delays of any sort, that hopefully by next day Wednesday, it could totally be done. I think one of the important things is how much of it will be done Tuesday night. Let’s say you could have 50%, 60%, 70% of it done on Tuesday night, that might give you some indication of who’s going to be the winner.”
Any race that is close may have to wait until all the mail-in ballots are tallied.
As for mail-in ballots postmarked on November 3rd but received on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, the county says they won’t begin to be tallied until after 5:00 p.m. on Friday. Those votes will be counted and added to the overall total, while at the same time, they will be segregated in case the Supreme Court later rules them illegal.
Polls open at 7:00 Tuesday morning and close at 8:00 p.m. Anyone in line at 8:00 p.m. will be allowed to vote.