Lehigh County election official supports early counting of mail-in ballots

Written by on March 10, 2021

Lehigh County election official supports early counting of mail-in ballots

By Megan Frank

March 10, 2021

Mail-in ballots for the 2020 General Election in the United States are seen after being sorted at the Chester County Voter Services office, Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, in West Chester, Pa. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Right now, mail-in ballots can’t be counted in Pennsylvania until 7 a.m. on Election Day.

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In the last election, Lehigh County had to count 77,000 mail-in ballots and it took a few days for them to do it.

That’s why the Lehigh County Voter Registration Office is supporting potential changes to Pennsylvania’s election code that could allow for early counting and speedier election results.

Timothy Benyo, chief clerk of registration and elections for the Lehigh County Election Board, says his office received criticism for not processing ballots fast enough last November. 

Allowing election officials to begin opening mail-in ballots — or even just the envelopes — before Election Day would cut down on processing time, he says.

“We’d really like to be able to pre-canvass earlier so that we can have the results out in a more timely manner, so that people don’t lose faith in what we’re doing,” Benyo says. 

A bipartisan committee will meet this spring to consider changes to the state’s elections code.

Another change under consideration is no longer requiring voters to provide an excuse for absentee ballots. 

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