Pictured in May is a mail-in ballot drop off box at the entrance to the second floor of the Bedford County courthouse.

Last Thursday, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court voted to extend the deadline for accepting mail ballots, allow voters to submit their ballots through drop boxes and remove the Green Party’s candidate for president from the ballot.

Mail-in ballots will now be accepted if they are received by 5 p.m. on the Friday after the election and were either postmarked by Nov. 3 or there is no evidence to suggest they were sent after Election Day. Previously, mail-in ballots had to be received by 8 p.m. on Election Day.

So what does that mean for voters in Bedford County?

“We will implement whatever the state decides to do with the elections,” said Commissioner Deb Baughman, chairwoman of the county elections board. “We will comply with (the decision) and we’ll count every vote that comes in.”

Baughman said, after a slight delay, ballots were certified after the court’s decision, but it is still unclear as to when exactly the board can begin sending out mail-in ballots.

The elections board has not yet had the opportunity to discuss any changes to vote-counting procedures, but Baughman said they got more scanners and volunteers to help out with ballot-counting, which will be helpful come Election Day.

“We’re very pleased with people stepping up,” Baughman said.

“We feel ready,” she added, mentioning that they are still accepting volunteers.

Baughman recognized that mail-in voting is a new process for many voters, and changes can create confusion.

“The pandemic threw a monkey wrench into it all,” she said, outlining her suggestions on voting this November:

The first step, she said, is to decide whether to vote in-person or by mail. If voting by mail, Baughman suggested to start the process of applying for a ballot as soon as possible. Then, in order to guarantee that the ballot is received in time, she suggested voters drop off their completed ballot at the elections office before 8 p.m. on Nov. 3, or to drop it off at the drop-box located outside of the office.

The drop-box is under 24/7 surveillance.

She also emphasized that voters cannot submit a mail-in ballot and also vote in person. If a voter applies for a mail-in ballot, but also goes to the in-person voting site, they will receive a provisional ballot which gives the election board the opportunity to ensure the vote will not be counted twice.

If you change your mind on how to vote, you can bring your mail-in or absentee ballot to the polls and it will be voided there. Then you can vote in person.

With all the voting information floating around and constantly changing, it’s crucial to keep up with the latest guidelines and reach out with any questions to ensure that your vote is counted this upcoming election.

“We are here for the community,” Baughman said. “If you have questions, call the election office.”

You can reach the election office at 814-623-4807.

Contact Christopher Detwiler at cdetwiler@bedfordgazette.com, 623-1151, ext. 105.

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