Drop in mail-in ballots for primary to be expected, York County official says

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

Ahead of next week's primary election featuring local and state races and ballot questions alike, the number of York County voters requesting mail-in ballots has dropped significantly.

Approximately 23,000 mail-in ballots had been sent out as of Monday, according to York County President Commissioner Julie Wheeler. That's a sharp drop from last year's election, which saw more than 70,000 mail-in ballots distributed in the primary. 

Thanks to changes in election law made two years ago, voters are able to request a  mail-in ballot without giving a reason. Before that legislation, mail-in ballots were limited to "absentee" voters who fit strictly defined qualifications.

More:York County commissioners change some polling locations ahead of primary

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Wheeler said the decrease in mail-in ballot requests makes sense.

"Last year was a presidential election cycle, so we typically see increased voter turnout in that cycle versus what would be called an off election year like this year," she said. "Obviously, these are more than we've ever seen, but nothing like last year."

During the 2019 primary election, the last primary before voters could use mail-in ballots for any reason, the county received 658 absentee ballots, according to York County spokesperson Mark Walters.

There will be several opportunities to turn in mail-in ballots. A drop box will be available 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the York County administrative building, 28 E. Market St., York. A drive-thru drop box will be available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the same location. In addition, the drop box will be available from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Election Day.

And, of course, the ballots can be sent through the mail. 

Mail-in ballots must be received by the elections office by 8 p.m. May 18.

York County Administrative Center in York City, Wednesday, June 17, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Some voters receive incorrect ballots: Approximately 71 voters received incorrect mail-in ballots because of a data entry error, Wheeler said Tuesday. 

In the York City 11 voting district, Democratic voters received Republican ballots. Wheeler said the error was discovered late Friday, and the corrected ballots had been sent out with instructions on how to return the incorrect ballots. 

Because of the variety of local races in York County municipalities and their wards on May 18, 1,449 unique ballots have been prepared, Wheeler said. That includes the primary races, in which voters can only vote if they are a member of the party: Democrats can only vote on Democrats, and Republicans can only vote on Republicans.

However, anyone can vote on the four statewide questions, and voters in the 48th Senate District can vote in the state Senate special election, which has four candidates.

Another polling location change: In addition to other polling location changes, York Township 4-1 voters will be voting at Aldersgate United Methodist Church, 397 Tyler Run Road.

Wheeler said the previous voting location, the Church of the Latter-Day Saints, was unable to accommodate voting.