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Allegheny County opening 5 ballot drop-off locations ahead of primary

Allegheny County opening more ballot drop-off locations ahead of primary
Allegheny County opening more ballot drop-off locations ahead of primary 02:01

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Allegheny County will open five ballot drop-off locations ahead of Pennsylvania's primary on April 23.

In addition to the County Office Building on Forbes Avenue, the county announced on Thursday that voters will also be able to take their ballots to five staffed drop-off locations.  

"Expanding access to voting, while maintaining the safety and security of our elections, is critically important to my administration and for protecting our democracy," County Executive Sara Innamorato said in a news release. "I'm proud to announce that the Elections Division will be staffing five additional ballot dropoff locations so voters across Allegheny County have expanded, secure options for voting in the lead up to the April 23rd primary Election Day."  

The new drop-off locations will be open the two weekends before Election Day. The Innamorato administration says the locations are distributed geographically across the county to give all voters easier access. The addresses and hours of the five locations can be found here

Voters can only return their own ballots unless they have completed authorization forms to turn a ballot in on behalf of someone who is physically unable to vote. Voters can still drop off ballots at the County Office Building as well. 

The drop-off locations will only accept completed ballots. During the election, the County Office Building will be open for voters to vote "over the counter" -- applying for mail-in or absentee ballot and then voting in person.

More information about the upcoming primary will be announced when it's available, Allegheny County says. 

Allegheny County Councilman At-Large Sam DeMarco, a Republican, is criticizing the decision, saying Innamorato acted without consulting either council or the elections board. 

"Why all of a sudden is she doing this at this point in time when Allegheny County has been setting the standard for running elections in the state?" DeMarco said.

He said this move never went before the board of elections, which the county executive is on. He questions how this will function and the security of these locations.

"A large segment of our population has concerns, whether warranted or not, about the security and sanctity of our electoral process," DeMarco said.

Innamorato's office said they went through the Pennsylvania Department of State with this plan.

They feel it wasn't necessary to go through the board since it will be like the current drop-off at the county office building. As for security, the office said county police will be stationed at these locations and will provide an escort at the end of the day to get the ballots to the county election warehouse on the North Side.

"And if they don't trust it, they don't have to, right? They can come vote at their polling place," Pitt political science professor Chris Bonneau said.

Bonneau, an elections expert at Pitt, said there so far have been no issues with mail-in drop-off locations in our area in past elections.

"There's been allegations of that but there's never been any kind of evidence that it's happened. There are so many checks in place," Bonneau said over Zoom.

The third member of the election board, County Councilmember Bethany Hallam, said she is for this idea. She has previously pushed for more locations for people to drop off ballots.

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