Sticker campaigns discouraged for Lycoming County write-in candidates

Write-in candidates eyeing this year’s new paper ballot voting system are prompted by the Lycoming County Voter Services to forgo handing out voting stickers, fearing paper jams could disrupt votes. 

“Please do not affix stickers, labels, stamps, or other additional material to a ballot to cast a write-in vote,” according to a Voter Services statement. “While not prohibited by law, the use of stickers is strongly discouraged because it can prevent individual ballots from being scanned or even damage the precinct scanning equipment.”

The Pennsylvania Election Code, passed in 1937, allows for stickers to be placed on ballots, so Lehman said it cannot be forbidden, however his office has taken a position against stickers because it may cause the machine to jam or the stickers may be removed during the scanning process.  

Stickers often are used because if a candidate’s name is not written correctly on the ballot the vote will not count, according to Forrest Lehman, director of voter services. However, with the introduction of a predominantly paper ballot system, stickers could cause more problems than they solve, Lehman said. 

“It might not serve the voters interests if there vote can’t ultimately be counted,” Lehman said. “As technology has gotten more sophisticated it also has gotten more sensitive.

In addition, simply placing the sticker on the ballot will not count the vote, he said. The write-in bubble also should be filled in and he said this may cause confusion with voters. 

Before electronic systems were the norm, paper ballots were counted by hand. Switching to electronic systems meant that write-ins were actually typed with a touch pad on the screen. 

New state requirements have caused the county to switch to a hybrid paper ballot system that scans the documents into the computer. 

He urged candidates to instead hand out informational cards or use quick-drying stamps at the polls and added that any write-in candidates for November should contact his office before Election Day.

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