Delco says it’s processed more than twice the expected amount of mail-in ballots

EAGLEVILLE, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Delaware County officials have processed about 85,000 mail-in ballot requests amid mandated stay-at-home orders — more than twice the amount of ballots that they expected.

“And before COVID struck, we were probably on track to receive a little less than that,” said Delaware County Councilmember Christine Reuther.

The U.S. Postal Service has been considerably slower than usual during the coronavirus pandemic. On top of that, the system Pennsylvania uses to process ballots is slower, especially for larger counties. They have to group ballots together in batches, based on municipality or political party, as the party’s ballots are different in a primary.

“Which means it doesn’t matter when someone applied for their ballot,” Reuther noted. “It matters which municipality they’re in, in terms of when it got printed.”

Reuther understands the concerns and frustrations around the June 5 primary. The county was already dealing with budget and staffing issues that were only made worse by the pandemic, to the point that they had to bring in volunteers to help stuff envelopes.

And, she said the same workers who process mail-in ballots are also responsible for everything from consolidating polling places to notifying voters of the changes, and getting PPE for poll workers.

If you haven’t returned your ballot yet at this point, Reuther recommends dropping it off at one of the county’s drop-off sites. Unlike other neighboring counties, Delco drop-off ballot boxes are available at every polling place.

“They shouldn’t have to wait in line,” she said. “They should be able to walk in and drop it and walk right out again.”

Reuther hopes that will alleviate any concerns of being in contact with other people. 

If you mailed in your ballot but didn’t get a notification that it was received, you can request to cast a provisional ballot at your polling place.

Reuther said they are learning from these mistakes for the future, and she emphasized that people should not lose faith in the mail-in voting system.

“To say the underlying system itself lacks integrity is a real disservice to everybody who wants to see an election happen and have the results of that election respected,” she said.