Counties gear up for primary election
The primaries are just around the corner, and election bureaus are busy getting everything ready for the May 18 municipal election.
In Monroe, Director of Elections and Voter Registration Sara May-Silfee is busy overseeing the moving parts that need to happen to ensure the primary election process runs smoothly.
“We work longer hours to be ready for May 18,” May-Silfee said.
Updating the poll books, scheduling classes for the poll workers and proofing the ballot are just a few of the duties the election board office performs to get ready for the primary.
Before the election, a test must be done on the voting software to ensure it runs properly. Making sure the voting machines are delivered to the designated polling places the day before the primary is also a responsibility of the election board.
Lisa Dart, director of elections in Carbon County, said that her office is putting in some extra hours to get everything out, but overall things are going well.
So far all absentees and unaffiliated ballots have been mailed out, while mail-in ballots will go out as soon as they are received and ready to go.
Approximately 2,500 absentee and mail-in applications have been received for the upcoming election to date.
She added that poll workers are preparing and voting machines will be delivered to polling precincts May 12 through 14.
Dart mentioned that if any poll worker has not been contacted, they should call her office at 570-325-4801.
In Schuylkill County, Elections Director Albert Gricoski said about 4,300 mail-in and absentee ballots have been received for the May 18 primary.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” he said after the more than 21,000 mail-in and absentee ballots processed for the presidential election.
Gricoski said workers are busy preparing for the election. A poll worker training is next month, but a date was not provided. Additional volunteers are welcome. There are 125 polling sites in Schuylkill County.
Gricoski said since the pandemic is still affecting daily life, appropriate protocols are in place.
“Masks will be requested to be worn as well as social distancing,” he said.
Four questions and special dates
This year the ballots may look somewhat different. Added to the ballots this year will be four questions in plain English that all voters - Democratic, Republican and nonaffiliated - can weigh in on by casting their vote.
If you are on the permanent voters’ list, you should receive a letter from the election office that you will need to fill out and send back to the election office. Once the request is received, your mail-in-ballot will be sent to you.
If you still haven’t received your ballot and primary day arrives, you can also vote via a provisional ballot at the polls. The provisional ballot will become your official vote once election officials determine they have not received your mail-in ballot.
• Primary election: May 18.
• Voter registration deadline: May 3.
• Deadline to request mail-in ballot: 5 p.m. May 11.
• Deadline to return mail-in ballot: 8 p.m. May 18.
For more information on voter services in Monroe, contact the Monroe County board of election at 570-517-3165.
In Carbon County, the office has temporarily been relocated to 410 Center Ave., Jim Thorpe. The phone number remains unchanged at 570-325-4801. Information is also available on the county’s website at www.carboncounty.com.
Residents in Schuylkill needing an application can call the elections office at 570-628-1467. Information is also available on the county website, co.schuylkill.pa.us.
To register to vote or check your registration status, visit pavoterservices.pa.gov.
Reporters Amy Miller and Amy Marchiano contributed to this report.