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Official: Post office ‘failing’ voters

In severely delaying the delivery of mail-in ballots for the June 2 primary, the United States Post Office is “failing countries all over this Commonwealth,” said a Lycoming County elections director

More than 300 residents have had to call voter services to cancel and resend their ballots.

“Counties are utterly disgusted at the post office right now because of their failure to deliver election mail in a timely manner,” said Forrest K. Lehman, director of elections and registration.

Several voters said to the Sun-Gazette that their experience eroded their trust in federal Post Offices.

“We’re not going to mail it in because look how long it took to get here, what’s to say it will get here in time,” said June Grube, of Montoursville, who only received her ballot Tuesday. “We figure we can go to the poll and get a provisional ballot.”

Meanwhile, Diane Peeling, of Montgomery, who also received her ballot Tuesday, said she’s worried for those who are unable to leave their home.

“My concern is for people who have limited ability to drive the ballot over there, and have to depend on the mail to get it there,” she said. “That’s going to cause some people to be ineligible.”

Lehman said there are many still experiencing difficulties with receiving their ballot.

“We’re trying to help people, but really all we can do once a ballot is out in the mail is either cross our fingers and hope it gets there, or cancel it and issue a new one,” he said.

However, this further slows down the post offices by putting more mail into the system, and effectively equates to county employees spending twice the amount of time they normally would for that voter.

“It’s not easy for the county either when we have to do that, but you could go all over the state and it’s happening everywhere,” said Lehman.

Unless there is a court order to extend the election, Lycoming County Voter Services is mandated to start and complete the count on June 2.

“We are permitted to begin what’s called precanvasing at 7 a.m. on election day, which consists of opening the envelopes, getting the ballots out, getting them prepared for scanning and also scanning them,” he said.

Any ballots received after 8 p.m. will not be counted, and starting at 8 p.m. voter services will begin to tabulate the results.

“We’ve never attempted a ballot canvassing operation for 10,400 of these things in one day,” he said. “There’s no basis for comparison.”

There were 900 mail-in ballots handled by the office in the 2016 primary.

This year’s mail-in ballots represent about 17 percent of the nearly 60,000 Lycoming County registered major party voters. Of the total number, there are 20,565 Democrats and 39,314 Republicans.

Lehman said he has yet to hear any reasons for the mail-in ballot delay from Postal Service.

“I have no explanation for it, I wish I did,” he said.

Federal post offices in Lycoming County were contacted by the Sun-Gazette, but did not respond to inquiries.

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