Westmoreland County approves use of single drop box for ballots at county courthouse

WESTMORELAND COUNTY, Pa. — In a 2-1 vote Monday, Westmoreland County commissioners voted to approve the use of only a single drop box for ballots at the county courthouse in Greensburg.

The county commissioners who voted in favor of eliminating boxes said this move will save the county money.

Some voters we talked Monday said they feel like this is limiting access for voters.

”I think they should just keep it the way it is. Some of these older people don’t have vehicles, it’s more convenient for them to do it around here,” voter Judy Charlesworth said.

Charlesworth has used a dropbox to vote in past elections and said she’s disappointed she will not have as many options this year.

”A lot of people can’t get around, they would have to depend on other people to take them,” Charlesworth said.

”Like many companies, we’re having challenges getting personnel, challenges keeping positions filled. It just seemed like the public was telling us they weren’t using the drop boxes, they were using the postal system,” Commissioner Doug Chew said.

Both Republican commissioners said just in last year’s election cycle, it cost the county about $15,000 to maintain and collect ballots from the handful of remote boxes.”In 2021 for both elections, we only collected a little over 1,000 ballots in the drop boxes over two  elections,” Chew explained.

The lone Democrat on the board voted against eliminating the boxes.

Gina Cerilli said, “This isn’t political; Murrysville saw the most amount of ballots in their drop box and that’s predominantly a more Republican area. All parties utilized the drop boxes, especially senior citizens and individuals with disabilities.

”The county said since using drop boxes, the return rate has never been better than 75%, and fewer than 2,000 ballots were dropped off ahead of last November’s election, and more than half of those were dropped off at the courthouse.

The message from Chew is to trust the postal service to get your vote in. “The drop boxes were really almost impossible to walk to, and so I would think we’re providing the same level of opportunity this year to get a ballot back as we have in years past,” Chew said.

Starting on May 3, the drop box will be in the lower park entrance of the courthouse annex.