The Chester County Board of Elections approved this week a number of measures to ensure the eligible ballots of all county voters are counted in the November 2020 Election. Those measures include the placement of 11 locations for secure drop-off of mail-in and absentee ballots, and the addition of two satellite election offices.
From Tuesday, October 13th, drop-off locations will be open for all County residents who choose to vote by mail-in or absentee ballot to securely return their completed ballot in-person. These locations include 10 libraries in the county, plus the Chester County Government Services Center on Westtown Road in West Chester. Two further libraries – Henrietta Hankin Library in Chester Springs, and the Oxford Public Library – will serve as satellite election offices to the main Voter Services Office in West Chester.
“Across our state, this is an election like no other, with first-time factors coming into play,” said Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Marian Moskowitz. “The first general election in PA allowing mail-in voting, combined with the impact of a global pandemic means that we have carefully considered and taken steps to ensure everyone can vote safely and securely, whether it be by mail or in person.”
The two satellite election offices, based in Chester Springs and Oxford, will allow voters to formally request and receive a mail-in ballot in-person, as well as submit their completed mail-in ballot there.
The address and opening time for the satellite election offices and the secure mail-in ballot drop boxes can be found on Chester County’s comprehensive election portal at chesco.org/elections. Included on the portal is an interactive map that allows voters to enter their address to find the satellite election office and secure drop-off locations closest to them.
County Commissioner Josh Maxwell added, “We will do everything we can to protect those who vote in person on November 3rd from COVID-19 and ensure that ballots submitted by mail, drop-box or at an election center are securely delivered to our Voter Services team and counted. Our emergency services, health department, and voter services staff have worked very hard to ensure safety and security during each step of this plan. We are very proud that for the first time we are setting up Election Centers in the southern and northern part of the County so that election resources are easier to access for all voters."
All drop-off locations will include a secure, tamper-proof locked box for completed ballots that are placed in the secrecy envelope and outer envelope. Security personnel will be positioned at each location. Ballots will be collected every evening, by individuals who are wearing a body camera, and the ballots will be delivered to the Chester County Government Services Center where they will be kept under video surveillance 24-hours a day, seven days a week until Election Day on November 3rd.
Chester County’s polling places will be set up to ensure the maximum level of personal protection against COVID-19 for both poll workers and the voting public on Election Day. This includes clear mapped-out 6-foot social distancing while waiting to vote and while voting; plexiglass shields; hand sanitizer and hand washing facilities; provision of masks, gloves and sanitation kits for all poll workers; regular cleaning of pens and voting stations; and specialized disinfectant for scanning machines.
“Another important part of this year’s election is clear, continually-updated communication for voters,” said Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline. “Information is crucial on important dates, how to apply for and complete a mail-in ballot, and how to monitor the progress of your mail-in and absentee ballot, and we are preparing that in many formats to make sure the message is seen and heard. Chester County’s Election Portal has a wealth of information that is easy to understand and access, and it is reviewed daily to keep on top of any news or possible changes that may happen.”