WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) Lycoming County election officials say they’ve already received a record number of mail-in and absentee ballots with several days still left to return them.
The Lycoming County office of voter services says they’re bracing for the record number of mail-in and absentee ballots already returned to their office. But with state law prohibiting them from processing and counting those ballots until Election Day, there’s concern for a potential logjam.
“It’s a huge strain on every county in the commonwealth,” said Forrest Lehamn, Lycoming County Director of Elections.
Just four days out from Election Day Lycoming County officials say they’re handling astonishing numbers of mail-in and absentee ballots.
Lehman says they’ve already received over 11,000 of the nearly 16,000 mail-in and absentee ballots applied for.
Those figures, shattering previous records and up from just 2,500 sent out in the last presidential election.
“Looking at 11,000 coming back, with still several days left to go to receive them. We’re definitely in unchartered territory,” said Lehman.
But that 5,000 ballot gap between received and applied-for could spell trouble.
Lehman says the balance could result in an increase in provisional ballots, paper ballots used when someone’s registration status is in question. Leading to a logjam and longer lines on election day.
“Our hope is that they come back in the mail, or that if the voter has the ballot they deliver it to voter services so that we don’t have those kinds of lines out at precincts on election day,” Lehman told us.
With his office, like those throughout the commonwealth, hamstrung in their ability to start counting until Tuesday, Lehman says results will depend on the 20-30 county employees tasked with adding the ballots up.
One voter we spoke with says not knowing all the results come Tuesday night would be strange.
“I think it’ll be weird for sure. But I trust the process, and I hope that we’ll know sooner rather than later,” said Cory Baney of Williamsport.
Lehman says he isn’t worried about concerns over the election’s validity — and neither should voters.
“There are county election officials and employees on the ground who are putting in this extraordinary time and effort to make the election work, and to follow the law and court rulings wherever they go,” Lehman added.
Lehman tells Eyewitness News despite these record numbers, he does believe results for local elections could be up by Tuesday night. As for the presidential race, that’s a little more nebulous — but it’s clear in both cases he and his fellow election officials could have diligently used a head start in that count.