Local officials ready for election season | New
The 2021 general election is less than a month away and local election officials say they are as prepared as possible after the tumultuous year since the 2020 presidential election.
While the November 2 elections will not have nearly the same flash or the same voter volume as last year, the microscope of election officials across the country has been under-stimulated by the continued surge in voter fraud and misinformation – added to the stress of the job.
A survey of election officials commissioned by the Brennan Center for Justice conducted earlier this year summed up 78 percent of election officials, said social media, where “disinformation and disinformation about elections has taken root and has spread. spread, made their work more difficult ”.
Local election officials said the false narrative broadcast over the past 11 months nationally and statewide echoed those sentiments.
“Nothing could be more difficult than administering a presidential election with new equipment and new laws and protocols right and left during the throes of a pandemic,” said Montour County Chief Clerk Holly Brandon, who oversees the elections in that county. “And then there’s the added insult from people in high places crying out fraud even before the election is held.”
“Frankly, administering the elections was no easier,” said Caleb Shaffer, Snyder County Electoral Officer. “We will always use our resources to the maximum to ensure that voters in Snyder County have a free, fair and accurate election.”
Transparency, said Northumberland County Electoral Officer Nathan Savidge, is key. In Northumberland County, there is an observation kiosk where people can watch the processing and counting of ballots on election day.
“We’re hammered,” Savidge said. “But the staff here, we want to make the voting as transparent as possible with the viewing room, so we’re in luck. But we keep adding information to our website (norrycopa.net/index.php/board-of-elections/) to get all the information.
Headcount for November
In the valley, election officials say they have enough staff to deal with lower turnout than last November.
The official Pennsylvania state government Twitter feed on Friday sent a link asking people to sign up to be a polling officer on November 2, touting $ 200 a day in pay, even during training and no experience. necessary.
Greg Katherman, Union County Election and Voter Registration Officer, said Union County had a full complement of staff on election day: about 135 election officers, six roving officers and six other county employees will take care of himself and the two employees in his office.
In Montour County, Brandon said there were enough election officials – election judges, election inspectors, police officers and appointees (clerks) – while acknowledging that there were “always gaps to be filled. but nothing abnormal ”.
Shaffer’s election office has two full-time employees, but he said they “bring extra staff to the courthouse on election day. We have confidence in our workforce. “
Savidge and his team completed the Northumberland County machinery reset on Friday, ending a week-long process. His office is fully staffed and the hours for part-time workers are starting to increase as they always do around elections, Savidge said.
As the 2020 election nears, he said the county is “bleeding out” from election officials, but the numbers have leveled off.
“It’s not as bad as it used to be,” he said. “We are a little better off than we were last year, but we are still looking for people to work in the polling stations. “
Election officials know turnout will be down from November – when turnout was at least 70% in three Valley counties and 69.7% in Montour – but the growing number of people using mail-in ballots could push the numbers higher than normal for a stop -Year municipal election.
Some of the most publicized races on the ballot this year include the mayor race in Sunbury and Milton, a few rank officer races in Northumberland County, area school boards and a county court race. by Snyder and Union.
Polling stations will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. for in-person voting on November 2. The last day to register to vote before the election is October 18 and requests to vote by mail or by post are October 26. All civilian mail – mail and mail ballots must be received at county polling stations by 8 p.m. on polling day, while overseas mail ballots and military ballots may be received until November 9.
Training is underway for election officials in the four counties.
“We are running two trainings for election officials that deepen the procedures and best practices on election day,” Shaffer said.
“There are three training nights approaching later this month,” Katherman said of Union County workers. “Poll workers will look at equipment and processes, voter eligibility, rules for new voters and how to help people vote. They will also be updated on postal ballots and provisional ballots.
Masks are not mandatory at polling stations, Katherman reiterated. He added that people voting by mail who may be late in getting it to the Postal Service can drop the ballots at the county election office – there are no dedicated drop boxes – or bring the ballots to their polling station to have them canceled and voted. in person.
In Northumberland County, Savidge said masks will be required at all eight or nine polling stations located in schools.
There were 8,165 votes cast in the spring primary, or about 31 percent of Union County’s 26,206 registered voters. Katherman did not expect such a large turnout.
“I guess it will be at least as strong as that one,” Katherman said of the Nov. 2 general election.
“Your estimate of the turnout is as good as mine. Nowhere near what we saw in the presidential election, ”Brandon said. “Everyone wants to vote for the president. Too bad there is not such a solid participation for the other races. They are all important.
In Snyder County, at the request of some voters, Shaffer said he introduced “I voted” stickers at all polling stations in the county. He said they were “in high demand by voters and election officials, in place of the ballot stub.
Shaffer said the turnout in municipal elections was typically between 25 and 35 percent. “I expect this election to be in the upper end of that range due to the growth of mail-in ballots,” he said.
Savidge said his office had already received three boxes of filled-in mail-in ballots from various locations across the county. Like Shaffer, he is convinced that the turnout will be higher than expected because of the mailings.
“We’re still going over our forecast for the ballots, but we’re still running out of,” Savidge said. “The use of mail is more and more common. It’s easy and people can send their ballots early.
Daily Item reporters Marcia Moore, Eric Scicchitano and Joe Sylvester and editor-in-chief Bill Bowman contributed to this story.