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Carbon sees increase in mail-in, absentee ballot requests

Carbon County is seeing an influx of mail-in and absentee ballot applications for the upcoming primary on June 2 and is preparing to temporarily consolidate polling places as a safety measure, officials said.

On Thursday, the county commissioners said that the elections bureau has received 3,213 applications as of Thursday, which represents about 20 percent of the likely voter turnout for the primary based on 2016 figures.

Commissioner Chris Lukasevich said that absentee ballots have been sent out week and mail-in ballots will tentatively go out next week, as long as they are received from the printer.

Last week, Lisa Dart, elections director, said her office was receiving upward of 350 applications a day for mail-in and absentee ballots.

In addition, Carbon County also received two grants for elections. One is for $36,064.90 from the Election Security Grant and the other is for $30,904.48 from the CARES Act grant.

The commissioners said the ESG grant will be used for increased personnel, equipment and other expenditures related to Act 77, as well as for increased security measures on systems and to expand and support mail-in voting and other voting services.

The CARES Act grant will be used for expenses that have come about because of the COVID-19 pandemic, including increased costs for mail-in and absentee voting, supplies to keep voters and poll workers safe, additional equipment and staff and training.

In other voting matters, the commissioners and election bureau are working on a temporary consolidated polling place list for the upcoming primary. The plan calls for consolidating 51 polling places down to 30.

A decision on finalizing the consolidation of the polling places for the primary in response to the pandemic will be made at the May 7 special election board meeting, which will take place immediately following the commissioners’ meeting at 10:30 a.m.

Gov. Tom Wolf has urged Pennsylvania residents to apply for a mail-in ballot for the upcoming primary as a way to safeguard themselves during the pandemic.

For more information on how to apply, visit www.carboncounty.com or www.votespa.com.