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York County hires Dillsburg firm to handle flood of mail-in ballot requests

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

York County will pay an outside firm to print, collate and mail the estimated 100,000 mail-in ballots that voters are expected to cast in November's general election.

It's a move the county commissioners said Wednesday will expedite the front-end of the election process and ensure ballots are mailed out in time.

Single Point Sourcing, based in Dillsburg, will also print the regular ballots that voters will use in person at polling places.

"We’ve talked to other counties that have done it in the primary election, and it worked out well for them," York County Commissioner Doug Hoke said, referring to outsourcing.

County officials don't want to wait until the last minute to begin printing and mailing ballots, Commissioner Julie Wheeler said, so orders for mail-in ballots will be sent to the printer in batches as the county processes and approves voter applications.

This will begin as soon as the Pennsylvania Department of State certifies the ballots, which is expected to happen mid-month, Wheeler said.

The county will pay about 27 cents per regular ballot and about $1.11 per mail-in ballot, plus a $150 fee each day the county sends a batch of mail-in ballot orders to Single Point Sourcing.

Temporary elections worker Jon DeHoff works at the elections office Tuesday, May 26, 2020. Tuesday is the last day for voters to submit applications for mail-in ballots before the next week's primary. The elections department is using staff from other offices in the county administration building to help process the applications. Bill Kalina photo

Primary experience: In the June 2 primary, about 40,000 people voted by mail in York County.

No-excuse mail-in ballots were a new phenomenon in the primary, made available for the first time in late 2019 when Gov. Tom Wolf signed Act 77 into law.

But the emergence of the novel coronavirus early this year, and the subsequent lockdowns implemented by Wolf in March, led to unexpected demand for voting by mail in Pennsylvania, and election offices across the state grappled with how to manage the influx of requests.

Of the 40,000 people in York County who voted by mail in the primary, 36,500 of them asked to be placed on a permanent "vote by mail" list, Wheeler said.

"We really did debrief and looked at what worked, what didn't and what could be better," she said, speaking about the June 2 primary.

Wheeler said it would be "incredibly difficult" for the county's staff in the Department of Elections and Voter Registration to process the ballots in-house and match Single Point Sourcing's efficiency.

She said the company specializes in processing a high volume of materials.

Once the first round of ballots are mailed out, Wheeler said county employees will be calling a random sample of voters to confirm whether they received their ballot and to make sure everything is in order, as a quality control measure.

York County assistant director of assessment Kimberly Harris inserts a mail-in ballot into a secured drop box at the York County Administration Center on East Market Street in York City, Tuesday, June 2, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot is 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27, but the U.S. Postal Service has warned that the deadline is too close to Election Day to guarantee that voters who apply at the last minute will receive their ballots in time to return them.

The governor has also asked the state Supreme Court to change the date, but as of Wednesday, the date had not changed.

"If you do have a desire to request a mail-in ballot, we would encourage you to to do that sooner rather than later," Wheeler said.

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