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Centre County Prepares for an Election Like No Other

With an ongoing pandemic and a hotly-contested presidential race, Tuesday is shaping up to be an Election Day like no other.

As of Oct. 27, there were 112,054 registered voters in Centre County — 46,872 Democrats, 44,560 Republicans, 732 Libertarians, 160 Green Party members, 4,088 others and 15,642 with no affiliation.

Because of concerns about the pandemic, many voters have already submitted their ballots through the mail-in voting process.

Oct. 27 was the deadline for voters to request a mail-in ballot and as of that day, and the county received 37,181 such requests. As of Friday, 29,432 completed ballots have been returned to the elections office.

Centre County Board of Commissioners Chairman Michael Pipe said that none of the ballot applications were challenged as fraudulent.

Mail-in ballots must be postmarked by Nov. 3 and must be received by the elections office by Nov. 6, though state officials have urged voters to hand-deliver their own ballots to drop boxes by 8 p.m. on Nov. 3 because of legal challenges to the postmark deadline.

Voters can drop off absentee and mail-in ballots at one of several secure ballot drop boxes around the county. Locations and availability of drop boxes can be found at centrecountyvotes.com/dropbox .

After completing the ballot, voters must place it in the secrecy envelope, which must then be sealed inside the pre-addressed outer return envelope. The voter’s declaration on the outer envelope also must be completed and signed. 

Voters were also able to vote early by completing mail ballots on-site at the satellite elections office in the Bryce Jordan Center up until Oct. 27.

Pipe said that at 7 a.m. on Election Day, staff will begin the pre-canvass of all mail-in and civilian absentee ballots that were received by the Centre County elections office by 5 p.m. on Nov. 2.

“Then, we will receive another batch of mail-in and absentee ballots that were received by our elections office by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 3,” said Pipe. “Our anticipated delivery of those second-batch ballots would be around 9:30 to 10 p.m. It’s anticipated that we will continue to pre-canvass ballots late into the night on Tuesday, Nov. 3, and potentially into Wednesday, Nov. 4.”

The vote-by mail ballot processing room will be at the Penn Stater, in Presidents Hall. The events in the room will be livestreamed in partnership with C-NET at centrecountyvotes.com and on C-NET’s YouTube channel starting at 6:30 a.m. on Nov. 3 and going no later than 5 p.m. on Nov. 4.

More than 275 workers will assist in counting the ballots. Pipe said that the county had hoped to have at least 100 but received high interest from throughout the community.

Each political party and candidate can have one authorized person in the pre-canvassing room to observe the processing.

Watch the mail-in ballot processing room training:

SAFETY PRECAUTIONS AT THE POLLS

On Nov. 3, polling location will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Voters are encouraged to check the Centre County elections office webpage to verify their voting locations, as some precincts have changed. Voters can also view sample ballots on the webpage.

Steps will be made at polling locations to keep voters and polling-station workers safe.

The Centre County Board of Elections is strongly encouraging individuals to wear masks when they vote in-person.

The Board of Elections cannot mandate voters to wear masks or face coverings while at a polling location. However, all poll workers will be required to wear masks during their time working in the polls.

While waiting in line, voters will be asked to stand 6 feet apart, everyone will be encouraged to wear masks and sanitizer will be available upon entry and exit. In addition, there will be sneeze guards for all poll workers.

Each voter will be given his or her own pen to mark their ballot and keep after they are done voting. Also, poll workers will be wiping down voting booths and tables after each use.

Those casting a ballot in person can find their polling places here

StateCollege.com’s Geoff Rushton contributed to this report.