Montgomery County still counting mail ballots, cites delays

A worker processes mail-in ballots at the Cumberland County Bureau of Elections on Nov. 4, 2020.

A worker processes mail-in ballots. (Cumberland County Bureau of Elections)

The polls have long been closed in Montgomery County, but ballot-counting is still underway for more than 20,000 provisional and mail ballots.

The Montgomery County Board of Elections released an update on the counting process, saying that while all in-person ballots have been recorded, two delays have made the process longer.

In part, the county says this is due to approximately 16,000 mail ballots that were printed incorrectly and delivered in early October. The defective ballots were easily identified, as they were printed on only one side.

Residents who received these ballots got new ones sent to them a week later, but these reissued ballots are undergoing a separate verification process, which takes longer.

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This process, approved by the Montgomery County Board of Elections and shared with both political parties, is to make sure that these voters only vote once.

“The process takes longer, but speed is not our priority right now. Accuracy is,” Chief Clerk Lee Soltysiak told WHYY News.

The county also said it received a higher-than-usual number of ballots that cannot be read by the ballot scanners. In every election, there are a number of ballots that face this issue, whether it be due to a stray mark, food spillage, damage from opening the ballot, or damage caused during mailing.

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It’s a common problem, but the county now has to recreate the impacted ballots and count them as well.

Officials estimate about 23,000 ballots are affected by the two issues.

“We are making good progress, we’re happy to report,” Soltysiak said. “Slow, but good. We are down to about 13,000 ballots left to count and we will keep working day and night until the task is done.”

Anyone can follow the counting process on the county’s results dashboard.

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