As part of PublicSource’s election coverage, we asked readers what they wanted to know about the unprecedented challenge voters and officials will face in a presidential election held during a global pandemic. We received dozens of questions and selected a few to start.
We also invite readers to post their experiences on our election-themed Facebook group where we are posting timely election information.
1) When will the Allegheny County Elections Division start counting ballots?
The short answer is, on Election Day. Ballots can be pre-canvassed, which entails opening and sorting, at the start of the day, though counting doesn’t start until the close of polls.
Democratic lawmakers, Gov. Tom Wolf and Pennsylvania Department of State Secretary Kathy Boockvar have all pressed for the General Assembly to change state law to allow for an earlier canvas. But as of Oct. 15, lawmakers have not made any headway on this issue.
The reason this is important is because the nearly 400,000 mail-in ballot applications in Allegheny County alone will take time to open, process and count, possibly causing a significant delay in results.
2) Allegheny County election officials significantly decreased the number of polling locations for the June 2 primary. How many polling locations will there be for the general election on Nov. 3?
The number of locations will be virtually the same as in Nov. 2019. With a few exceptions, voters casting a ballot in-person on Election Day will return to the same polling places. Some precincts, for example those held at a senior living facility, have been moved. For the list as of Oct. 13, click here.
3) Where are the ballot drop-off boxes located? And what are the hours of operation?
Allegheny County voters casting a mail-in and/or absentee ballot can do so at the main office or at one of eight satellite offices across the county. Not all of the satellite offices are up and running yet. The locations, times and dates are available here.*
The deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot is Oct. 27. Click here, for more information on voting by mail.
*Note: Pennsylvania does not have early voting. However, voters may apply for a mail-in ballot and, within 15 minutes, vote in person at the County Office building at 542 Forbes Ave. or at satellite offices.
4) Pittsburgh residents will consider a measure about whether or not to expand the power of the Pittsburgh Citizen Police Review Board [CPRB]. What does it mean if the measure passes?
If passed, Pittsburgh officers would be required to cooperate with CPRB investigations into police misconduct allegations.
Under the city charter, CPRB can compel officers to participate through a subpoena. But when the police union or the city contests a subpoena – and they do – the fight can last months.
“The (proposed) requirement cuts through a lot of the nonsense,” Elizabeth Pittinger, CPRB executive director, told PublicSource.
Pittinger said the ballot measure would also establish relationships with the city of Pittsburgh Comptroller’s office (to conduct performance audits of the Police Bureau) and the Commission on Human Relations (to adjudicate complaints). And it prevents the mayor from removing board members except for just cause and only with city council approval.
Nicole C. Brambila is the local government reporter for PublicSource. She can be reached at 412-515-0072 or firstname.lastname@example.org.