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How to make sure your vote counts

Answers to common election concerns

AP photo
A Pennsylvania official mail-in ballot for the 2020 general election is shown. Whether someone who has requested and/or received a mail-in ballot can change their mind and vote in person depends on a couple factors.

LEWISTOWN — As large scale mail-in voting during a presidential election occurs in Pennsylvania for the first time, the new process has caused confusion for some voters, especially those who initially requested a mail-in ballot, but now wish to vote in person at their local polling place on Nov. 3.

On Wednesday, Mifflin County Commissioner and Board of Elections member Kevin Kodish released answers to some frequently-asked questions from those voters who are looking to ensure their votes are counted.

Q: What if I requested a mail-in or absentee ballot, and I want to vote at the polls?

A: If you already submitted a mail-in or absentee ballot, you cannot vote at your polling place on election day.

If you did not return your mail-in or absentee ballot and you want to vote in person, you have two options:

¯ Bring your ballot and the pre-addressed outer return envelope to your polling place to be voided. After you surrender your ballot and envelope and sign a declaration, you can then vote a regular ballot.

¯ If you don’t surrender your ballot and return envelope, you can only vote by provisional ballot at your polling place. Your county board of elections will then verify that you did not vote by mail before counting your provisional ballot.

Q: What if I received my mail-in or absentee ballot, and I destroyed it? Is there a way for me to convert to in person voting now or to get a replacement ballot – in advance of Election Day?

A: Yes, if you destroyed your ballot, please contact the Mifflin County Elections Office at (717) 248-6571, extension 1, and they will help you through this process.

¯¯¯

Kodish also wanted to point out that many political organizations sent out mass mailings to people that were not mail-in ballots, but applications for mail-in ballots.

“Many people don’t understand the difference between mail-in ballot applications and mail-in ballots,” Kodish said. “Many organizations, like the Republican National Committee, sent out mass mailings of mail-in voter applications to people. Most people just threw those away.”

Kodish also alluded to an Open Line comment in Wednesday’s Sentinel that caused some confusion and a higher volume of calls to the county’s elections office.

The post correctly stated that those who have requested mail-in ballots who now wish to vote in person should take their mail-in ballot with them to the polling place, but also intimated that many people have thrown away actual ballots when Kodish says that isn’t the case.

“The Open Line post had caused people to worry that they have thrown out ballots when, in fact, they have just thrown out applications,” Kodish said.

Any voter who has legitimate questions can visit the voter registration office in the county courthouse or call (717) 248-6571, extension 1. The Mifflin County Courthouse is open from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. each Monday through Friday.

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