Sample ballots, over the counter voting, and ballot return provide tools for voters
Last updated 10/19/2022 at 6:37pm
The Allegheny County Elections Division is reminding voters there are a number of tools available to them this election season including sample ballots, over-the-counter voting, and ballot return.
“Voting is easier than ever before and there are more options available to voters to cast their ballot and have their voice heard this election season,” said David Voye, Elections Division manager.
Sample ballots for the 1,323 precincts across the county are now available on the county website. The tool allows voters to see their sample ballot and polling place. In addition to using this link to the online tool, voters can also visit https://www.alleghenycounty.us/elections/voting.aspx and look for Sample Ballots under Quick Links or can also find the link on the tile for On Election Day.
As announced, the Elections Division is now offering over-the-counter voting. In its first three days, more than 50 voters have availed themselves of the option which is available during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Tuesday, Nov. 1. To make the process more voter-friendly, the concession stand space in the lobby of the County Office Building will serve voters seeking to apply and receive their mail-in or absentee ballot.
Staffed by Elections Division staff, the window will be open during regular business hours. Space will also be set aside in the lobby area to allow voters to complete their ballot in private. The County Office Building is located at 542 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15219.
Over-the-counter voting is not a new process and has been available to voters in the county for decades. It entails a voter going to the counter in the Elections Division and applying in-person for a mail-in or absentee ballot. The application is the same as the one found online and can be completed in advance of going to the County Office Building. Once the application is completed and submitted to the Elections staff, the application will be processed using the SURE system to ensure the voter is registered to vote, hasn’t already applied for a ballot, or has any other barriers to voting.
Once reviewed and approved, the ballot for that person’s municipality, ward and precinct will be provided to the voter along with a secrecy and declaration envelope, and instructions for voting. Voters may complete their ballot and return it while there or may take the materials with them and return them prior to the 8 pm Election Day deadline.
All voters are reminded to place their completed ballot in the secrecy envelope. The secrecy envelope should not be marked in any way, and failure to place the ballot in a secrecy envelope will result in the ballot not being counted. The secrecy envelope is then placed inside the declaration envelope which the voter must sign and date.
Once the completed ballot is turned in, it is secured in a locked ballot box before being transported to the Elections Warehouse. Once received at the warehouse, the voter’s record is updated to reflect that the ballot has been returned and the ballot is then stored in a locked room under camera surveillance. They will remain there until 7 a.m. on Election Day when ballots may begin to be opened and counted.
The Elections Division will continue to have expanded ballot return available for voters. Currently, voters may return their ballots at the concession stand window in the lobby of the County Office Building, 542 Forbes Avenue, downtown. Beginning on Friday, October 28, voters will be able to go to the Ross Street entrance of the building and return their ballot to Elections staff directly inside of those doors. As has been done in the past, the right lane of Ross Street, closest to the County Office Building, will be sectioned off to allow motorists to easily pull over near the entrance and return their completed ballot.
Voters are reminded of the following:
· State law requires voters return their own ballot; they may not return the ballots of others
· Ballots must be placed in the secrecy envelope; “naked” ballots will not be counted
· Voters should not mark the secrecy envelope in any way
· Voters must sign and date the declaration envelope
On Election Day all 1,323 polling places will be open on Election Day. Hours are from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. and anyone in line at 8 p.m. will be allowed to vote.
On the ballot are candidates for the office of United States Senator, Governor and Lieutenant Governor, Representative in Congress, Senator in the General Assembly (in even numbered districts) and Representative in the General Assembly.
All county voters will have a ballot question as well, asking if provisions of the Home Rule Charter should be repealed to allow members to run for another office without first resigning. Available information on the referendum is available at http://www.alleghenycounty.us/elections/ballot-questions.aspx
To verify a polling place, visit https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/pages/pollingplaceinfo.aspx. The state’s site is set up to use the voter’s mailing address, not the municipality.
Voters whose polling places have changed will be sent a mailing prior to Election Day advising of the new location.