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Mail-In Ballots Go Out Next Week In Allegheny County, But Expect Some Changes

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Pennsylvania's primary election is just five weeks away, and on Tuesday afternoon, the Allegheny County Elections Board met for the first time since the November election.

That delay brought an objection from some of its members.

"Are we going to take and do a review at some point of what we thought went well and what we thought went wrong for November's election?" county Councilman Sam DeMarco, a Republican member of the Elections Board, asked his colleagues.

DeMarco called it a missed opportunity to allay public fears about Pennsylvania's election.

But County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, who chairs the Election Board, had a quick response.

"I thought with all the turmoil, they did a great job, but that's not to say things couldn't be better," he says.

With just over a month before the primary, Allegheny County election officials say they have processed 90,000 mail-in ballot applications with ballots to go out soon.

"With the hopes of by Tuesday or Wednesday or next week, start mailing our first batch of absentee and/or mail-in ballots," says David Voye, county elections manager.

It will be a test run for the county's new mail house -- Michigan Election Resources -- hired to replace Midwest Direct that mailed 29,000 incorrect ballots last year.

Officials like their new pick.

"They do have some standing in Pennsylvania. Last election they did Delaware County's ballots and Lancaster County's ballots, and they come highly recommended," says Chet Harhut, the county elections deputy manager.

Some changes from last year include ballot applications are not going out to all voters this time. You're on your own to sign up for a mail-in ballot.

Another change?

"We will not be providing satellite locations for this May primary but the County Office lobby concession area will be available for drop-offs on the week prior to the election," says Jerry Tyskiewicz, the county administrative director.

County Councilwoman Bethany Hallam, a Democratic member of the Elections Board, says the 2021 elections are just as important as a presidential race and objected to changes that, she says, make it harder to vote this May than last November.

"A lot of the things that made our elections amazing last year are not going to happen this year. That's really where my frustrations lie today," Hallam told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.

Now unlike the last primary, every polling place will be open this year.

The Board also voted to up the pay of poll workers to $150 for Election Day. They still need workers, if you want to sign up.

You can request a ballot online.

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