Mercer County begins processing absentee ballots Wednesday

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Pennsylvania didn't start processing absentee ballots until Tuesday morning and it may be days before we see results

MERCER CO., Pa. (WKBN) – Pennsylvania, one of the most important presidential battlegrounds, is among the handful of states that did not begin processing absentee ballots until the morning of Election Day. That abridged timeline is one of the reasons the state isn’t expected to have every vote counted for days.

All eyes are on Pennsylvania as it finishes counting up the votes.

The Trump campaign said bad things are happening in Pennsylvania, that Democrats are scheming to disenfranchise and dilute Republican votes. President Donald Trump and his team are fighting to put a stop to it.

His campaign is suing the state for allowing mail-in votes through Friday, which will be added to the count. They feel the deadline was not extended by the state legislature or Congress, which is required under the Constitution.

The first day of counting votes is done in Mercer County. Pennsylvania allows for absentee mail-in ballots to start being counted the day after Election Day.

Mercer County sent out 19,000 absentee ballots, 15,000 of which came back, so that’s 20% of the county’s population.

Eight teams of two people each, one Democrat and one Republican, are working to count them.

“These people have all sworn oaths to uphold the process,” said Mercer County Elections Director Thad Hall.

The ballots were locked up until Wednesday morning.

“You know, we have a little checklist that we give them and so it lists the precinct up here and it literally goes through every step, including raise your hand and get your ballots sliced open,” Hall said.

The return envelope is opened, the official ballot envelope is taken out and then it’s opened to get to the ballot.

But, some voters didn’t follow the checklist.

“We had a couple ballots that were sent in that were not in the official secrecy envelope, which is required by statute. It’s called the official ballot envelope. We have a couple people who returned two ballots in one official envelope,” Hall said.

That’s not allowed either.

Mercer County started with some of the smaller municipalities and will work up to the bigger communities. The counting should be done Thursday afternoon.

“So if you mailed in your ballot, your vote is no more less important than a ballot that was counted last night,” Hall said.

Mail-in ballots postmarked by Tuesday can be accepted through 5 p.m. Friday, but that’s what the Trump lawsuit is about. All of those ballots are being kept separate until getting further guidance from the state.

“There is nothing really different in this election,” Hall said. “We just have more mail-in ballots to deal with and we have more provision ballots that we will have to go through next week, and that is the big change in this election. It’s just the volume for us, it’s just a matter of following procedures and processes and handle every ballot, give it the respect it deserves so that they are all counted appropriately.”

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