Have you received your mail-in ballot yet? Here’s what you need to do before sending it back

Have you received your mail-in ballot yet? Here’s what you need to do before sending it back

PITTSBURGH — Hundreds of thousands of mail-in voting applications are being sent to voters in western Pennsylvania, and it’s happening in Allegheny County more than in any other part of the state.

That’s raising concerns about the process and about making sure people follow it correctly so their votes are counted.

“Even senior citizens are really going to be impacted by who we vote for,” said Nancy Flaherty-Beck.

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You’ve probably heard this line before, but Flaherty-Beck sees this as one of the most important elections of her lifetime. It will also be a new experience since she won’t be lining up at the polls to cast her ballot.

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Flaherty-Beck is one of more than 324,000 voters in Allegheny County who have requested a mail-in ballot — the most of anywhere statewide.

The next closest is Philadelphia County with 294,000, even though our neighbors to the east have 177,000 more registered voters.

“You’re worried about a lot of things. You want to make sure things are done right. We’re getting the word out to people and we’re anxious that things get done properly,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald said they’re preparing for an influx of mail-in ballots. That includes making sure people are submitting their ballots properly so they aren’t disqualified.

“You put your ballot in the secrecy envelope, then you put the secrecy envelope inside the return envelope and then you sign it. That gives your ballot the validation that’s needed by the Election’s Department,” Fitzgerald said.

Here are some tips to help clear up some confusion about what you need to do before you send your ballot back:

  1. Fill out your ballot.
  2. Take your ballot and place it in the secrecy envelope.
  3. Take that envelope and place it inside the prepaid envelope provided by the elections office.
  4. Fill out the voter declaration information, sign it and send your ballot in to be counted.

Election officials won’t know how many people followed those steps until 7 a.m. on Election Day, which is when they’re allowed to begin processing mail-in ballots.

The county says voters can request applications for another four weeks leading up to the election. Even though there are a lot of people who have already done so, even more are expected to over the next several weeks.

Mail-In, absentee ballots being sent out in batches to Allegheny County voters