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Philly Commissioner's Office Concerned About 'Being Able To Hold The Elections' After Mail-in Ballot Surge Causes Expenses To Skyrocket

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- The deadline to submit an application for a mail-in paper ballot to vote in Pennsylvania's June primary ended on Tuesday afternoon. In Philadelphia, the city received 30-times more applications for mail-in ballots than four years ago, during the last presidential race.

However, it comes with a hefty price tag.

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Philadelphia Commissioner's Office Chairwoman Lisa Deeley said during a Tuesday hearing about its current budget, "We would be in danger of not being able to have the November election," after a surge in mail-in paper ballots has caused expenses to balloon in the Philadelphia Commissioner's Office.

Deeley's colleague, Commissioner Omar Sabir, explained to Eyewitness News why mail-in paper ballots cause expenses to skyrocket.

"They're very expensive," Sabir said. "The postage alone, then you have to print them out, then you have to have the label, the return postage -- it's very expensive."

In a statement to Eyewitness News, Deputy Commissioner Nick Custodio said, "Much of the additional costs from the recent State mandates are currently not budgeted. This includes additional staff needed to process voter registrations, the increase in our shipping costs, the paper ballots themselves and our election night program to get them returned to us. This doesn't even include the additional costs to handle the tsunami of mail-in requests. If our budget is not revisited we will run into issues being able to hold the elections."

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney says the city is working with the commissioner's office.

"We will have an election both on June 2 and in November," Kenney said. "The budget process is proceeding, we'll see how it turns out in the end, but we're not canceling the elections."

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Meantime, in Montgomery County, nearly 2,000 voters were sent the wrong ballots for the primary next month. There's been other mistakes, too.

"I've literally received hundreds of phone calls from residents from Montgomery County that have submitted a request for a mail-in ballot to vote on the June 2 primary, however, they haven't received it in the mail," Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale said.

President Donald Trump also chimed in about main-in ballots, tweeting Tuesday, "There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent. Mail boxes will be robbed, ballots will be forged & even illegally printed out & fraudulently signed." Trump, though, has voted by mail, as does the military.


Philadelphia city leaders insist mail-in ballots are secure. By City Hall, an absentee and mail-in ballot dropbox was recently installed. Montgomery County also installed five of them. They're located at:

  • One Montgomery Plaza: 425 Swede St., Norristown, PA 19401
  • Green Lane Park: 2144 Snyder Rd., Green Lane, PA 18054
  • Eastern Courthouse Annex: 102 North York Rd., Willow Grove, PA 19090
  • Montgomery County Community College Pottstown Campus: 101 College Drive-South Hall, Pottstown, PA 19464
  • Montgomery County Community Connections Office: 421 West Main St., Lansdale, PA 19446

Montgomery County election officials are also requesting a time extension for absentee and mail-in ballots.

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