Thousands of Lebanon County voters disenfranchised after drop box removal

Election workers perform a recount of ballots from the recent Pennsylvania primary election at the Allegheny County Election Division warehouse in Pittsburgh on June 1, 2022. Elections officials in a central Pennsylvania county were scrambling Monday, April 17, 2023, to fix an error on more than 18,000 mail-in ballots for the spring primary, when voters will elect judges for the state Supreme Court and other positions. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File)

By Sean Kitchen

February 12, 2024

An estimated 4,500 Lebanon County voters were set to use the county’s only drop box this primary. Now they may face 45 minute lines if they want to drop their ballot off in person.

Lebanon County Commissioners voted to remove the county’s only drop box last month in an attempt to suppress voters who chose to vote by mail for the upcoming 2024 primary and presidential elections, according to a report by Lebanon Daily News.

Bob Phillips and Micheal Kuhn, the county’s two Republican commissioners, voted to remove the county’s only drop box due to “voter integrity” concerns when in reality the move is to prevent thousands of voters from returning their ballots.

“This is to me a symbol of a potential problem that you can’t control,” Phillips said at a commissioners meeting last month.

Because you are counting on people walking up to the box, doing what they are supposed to do and putting in one ballot, and there’s no way of really proving that they have not put in more than one.”

The local outlet went on to report that Lebanon County is expecting to issue more than 16,000 mail-in ballots and estimated that 4,500 mail-in ballots, or one-third of mail-in ballots issued, were expected to be delivered to the county’s drop-box.

Now residents wanting to drop off their ballot will have to face many obstacles if they want to drop off their ballot in-person. They will have to go through a security checkpoint to go into the county offices and may face a 45 minute wait with long lines just to drop off a ballot.

“By having (a box) outside the security check-in, somebody can get out of their car, drop off their ballot, and not have to come up through security and get in the line,” Sean Drasher, Lebanon County elections director, told the Lebanon Daily News.

Jo Ellen Litz, the Democratic county commissioner, shared more concerns about accessibility, especially for those who are disabled individuals according to the report.

“To eliminate our dropbox would just add multiple layers to this election that we just don’t need,” Litz said.

Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

CATEGORIES: ELECTION | POLITICS

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