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Are absentee ballots absent from United States polls?

Photo Courtesy of wikimedia.com

Maria Glotfelter

Staff Writer

With the presidential primaries in full motion, Americans may be starting to think about Election Day. Many states are starting the process of primary voting, which occurs on a pre-designated day. What if someone is traveling and away from their hometown on that day? How do they vote then? If you have never been away during an election, this thought may have never crossed your mind. An absentee ballot is an option for people unable to attend the polls on an election day to still voice their opinion. Members of the military, people with physical disabilities, or simply someone who travel for their employment may make use of an absentee ballot. Each state has their own rules and regulations regarding voting, but the process is fairly simple in Pennsylvania, albeit a bit more work for the voters. First, you must be registered to vote, of course. Second, Pennsylvanian residents can go to votespa.com to fill out an absentee ballot form. The form contains simple information such as your reason for being absent and your driver’s license number. After filling out the form, voters can return it to their local County Election Office. This process seems straightforward at first, but there are some hidden workings of absentee ballot voting. There are some common misconceptions that absentee ballots are not counted. All votes are counted, but it turns out that absentee ballots are officially counted after an election. For example, Berk’s County, a county here in Pennsylvania, lists their policies at co.berk.pa.us: “An official count is made at the precinct and posted at the polling place. Since the rules for counting absentee ballots can be complicated, the official count is done in the Office of Election Services starting at 9 a.m. on the Friday after the election. They are then added to the Election Night totals.” Part of the complicated process may be attributed to the fact that absentee ballots could be mailed from outside the United States. Additionally, according to longdistancevoter.org, absentee ballots may be counted later due to their small percentage in regards to overall votes. If there is a clear winner in the race, the absentee ballots may not be enough to change the outcome. So, it seems that the votes are counted, but does the fact that they’re counted later than other votes hold any significance? Voters should always concern themselves with education. So, whether you’re a skeptic of the system or not, reading up on these everyday processes wouldn’t hurt anything.

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