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Studio Shot of a Ballot Box

With the last day to register to vote in the Nov. 2 general election less than a week away (Monday, Oct. 18), and the deadline for applying for an absentee ballot just under two weeks away (Tuesday, Oct. 26), concerns continue regarding the electoral process in Pennsylvania as a whole and in Indiana County in particular.

Confusion still was reported about a county elections mailing that had an error in its wording about when ballots “must be postmarked by,” though Commissioner Robin Gorman said calls about that error were down by a third since stories published in The Indiana Gazette and on Renda Broadcasting.

“We appreciate the feedback,” Commissioner Robin Gorman said.

Still, retired Indiana Area School District social studies teacher Josephine Cunningham said, the county should send out a new postcard, keeping the details “as simple as possible.”

Much of what is required is available on the county’s indianacountypa.gov website and was repeated during Wednesday’s board meeting.

That includes the fact that “completed ballots can be returned to (the) Voter Registration Office (in the Indiana County Court House along Philadelphia Street) through the U.S. Postal Service or dropped off in person at the Court House between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.”

The exception is Election Day itself, Nov. 2, when the courthouse will be open until 8 p.m., the time polls close across the county and state. In any case, ballots will not be accepted after 8 p.m. Nov. 2.

Also:

• If you have returned your voted ballot to the County Elections Office by mail or drop-off, you do not need to do anything further.

• When you place it in the mail or drop it off at the county’s secure drop box in the courthouse lobby, it will be routed to the voter registration office at the courthouse, where staff will review it for signature and date and then scan your voter barcode to the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors database.

• Your ballot will be stored in a secure vault until 8 p.m. Election Day, at which time all ballots are transported to one of the courtrooms and counted on secure ballot counting equipment.

County officials said on the website that one may verify receipt of an absentee ballot by calling the registration office at (724) 465-3852 or visiting https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/Pages/BallotTracking.aspx.

Also Wednesday, Mayor Arlene Wanatosky of Homer City addressed concern over “efforts to interfere in our fair and free elections.”

In particular, she was criticizing what she called “some nefarious people” including state sens. Douglas V. Mastriano, R-Franklin County, and Cris Dush, R-Brookville, a former state House representative for Jefferson and northern Indiana counties, to audit the 2020 elections.

“It is costing unnecessary time and money,” Wanatosky said. “The election was fair and democracy prevailed, for now.”

In July, Mastriano launched what he called a “forensic investigation” of the state’s voting last year, demanding cooperation from counties and echoing a similar effort conducted in Arizona.

In August, state Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman pulled Mastriano and his staff from that effort and assigned it to Dush.

The Indiana County commissioners said Wednesday they had not been approached regarding such an audit.