County Vote-by-Mail Requests up Over 330%
STROUDSBURG – With over five more weeks for voters to request mail-in ballots, the Monroe County Office of Elections and Registration has already received over 14,500 applications for mail-in ballots – over 10,000 more than in the 2016 presidential election. The totals include vote by mail requests, as well as absentee and military ballots. Only the military and absentee ballots were available in 2016.
Despite the 336% increase in mailed ballot applications, Sara May-Silfee, the County Director of Elections and Voter Registration, remains confident that a final tally will be completed “by the latest Thursday,” November 5. May-Silfee said that, as with the primary, which saw a similar percentage increase in voting by mail, the Office will bring on extra temporary staff to help count all of the ballots.
With the Pennsylvania Supreme Court earlier this month clearing the way for counties to use remote collection boxes for the mailed ballots, May-Silfee has plans to place five collection boxes around the county. She has already submitted her plan to the state and is awaiting approval.
When approved, collection boxes will be placed at the Pocono Mountain Public Library in Coolbaugh Township, 5500 Municipal Drive, Tobyhanna, PA 18466, and at the Clymer Library in Tobyhanna Township, 115 Firehouse Lane, Pocono Pines, PA 18350. In addition to those Top of the Mountain sites, collection boxes are planned for the Western Pocono Public Library, the Eastern Monroe Public Library, and in the Smithfield Township municipal building (until the new library there is completed, when it will be moved).
There is also a collection box in the Office of Elections in the Monroe County Administrative Building, One Quaker Plaza, Room 105, Stroudsburg, PA 18360 (the elections office closes at 4:30 pm).
The ballot boxes will permit voters choosing to cast remote ballots to conveniently return them in secure receptacles closer to home. Any county voter can deposit their ballot in any of the six ballot collection bins.
Voters may request ballots up to October 27 by going to the official state voter information website at votespa.com and filling out the application. You’ll need a valid PA driver license or ID to request a ballot online. If you do not have one, you need to go in person to the county election office. It is highly recommended that, if you wish to vote remotely, you apply for a ballot immediately so that there is time for the election office to process the application, mail you the ballot, and for you to return it. This year for the first time voters will receive a postage-paid ballot-return envelope with their ballot.
The post office recommends that mailed ballots be deposited no later than October 27. The state supreme court has also ruled that, if a mailed ballot is postmarked on or before election day and received by the Friday after election day, it must be counted. The safest course after October 27 would be to deposit the ballot in one of the six secure depositories in the county.