Over 12,000 absentee ballot applications have been submitted in Lycoming County so far, according to voter services.
Ballots have begun to be mailed, according to Forrest Lehman, director of Voter Service, but added that due to the volume he expects the mailing process for those ballots to last over the next week or two. The deadline to apply for an absentee ballot is Oct. 27.
Absentee ballots must be delivered to the voter services office by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3, or be postmarked that day and arrive by the following Friday, Lehman said.
“It is too early to begin receiving them back, although we could soon have some people requesting them over the counter,” Lehman said.
Lehman anticipates that roughly one third of the election votes will be cast through the mail.
During the 2016 presidential election, over 52,000 votes were cast in Lycoming County, according to voter services. This will be the first general election that mail-in ballots are available to anyone who applies.
Roughly 10,500 ballots applications were submitted during the 2020 Primary, and 7,500 were returned, Lehman said.
The increase in mail-in ballots is a “seismic change on how elections are run,” Lehman said. On a standard presidential election year, the county may have roughly 2,500 absentee applications. At the end of 2019, the passage of Act 77 allowed any registered voter who applies to receive a mail-in ballot.
So far in the General Election, the county voter services office is processing between 100 and 200 applications per day, Lehman said. Despite the high volume, he anticipates being able to count all of the mail-in ballots on election night. However, state and nationwide election results may still take a few days or a week to come in.
The county could have begun sending out ballots a week earlier, but were delayed due to the state Supreme Court case regarding Green Party presidential nominee Howie Hawkins, Lehman said.
Hawkins’ name was ordered off the ballot in Pennsylvania because he did not follow the procedure for getting on the state ballot, according to the state Supreme Court. The democratic majority decision of 5-2, reversed an earlier ruling by Republican Judge to allow Hawkins on the ballot.