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Explaining The Reliability And Safety Of Mail-In Voting

WASHINGTON COUNTY (KDKA) -- Karen and George Pelkey are among an estimated 50,000 Washington County residents voting by mail.

Elections Chief Melanie Ostrander fields just about as many questions, ranging from votes getting lost or disqualified, to whether people are voting multiple times.

"We check every ballot. Voters are only voting once they're not able to fraud the system," she said.

The most common question comes from people receiving multiple ballot applications.

While election bureaus send out one, campaigns and special interest groups send out others, trying to get likely supporters to vote.

When KDKA investigator Andy Sheehan asked Ostrander if that means they can vote more than once, Ostrander said  "No, we check every application we receive to make sure we do not already have an on file for that person."

Then there's the ballot itself which must be filled out with your name, address, and the date you're voting.

"A lot of voters are confusing it with their birthdate. It's not a fatal flaw but it is supposed to be today's date," she said.

The ballot must also be signed.

Currently, there is a question before the state Supreme Court as to whether your signature must match that on file but right now it doesn't.

"We cannot disqualify the ballot based in signature alone" she said.

And the ballot also comes with a label with your name and a barcode.

Once it is scanned into the system, no other vote can be counted.

Most importantly, the ballot needs to be placed in this secrecy envelop and then placed back in the voter declaration envelope to ensure your votes is confidential.

"If the ballot is not in the secrecy envelope, it will not be counted," she said.

The Pelkeys, who dropped off their ballots today believe they did everything right.

Karen Pelkey said: "Yeah I think it's safe, she just took it and dropped in the ballot box so I think it will be safe this way,"

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