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Now is the time for unregistered voters to register for the Municipal Election on Nov. 2.

Although eligible voters have until 4:30 p.m. on October 18 to register at the county’s voter registration office or until 11:59 p.m. to register online, elections officials encourage voters not to wait until the last minute.

Michael Anderson, Chief Clerk of Voter Registration for Lebanon County, said that while Act 77 narrows the official last day to register from 30 to 15 days before an election, it also shortens the amount of time for officials to ensure new voters receive their voter registration identification cards in the mail prior to an election, which normally takes 7 to 14 days.

“We always encourage people when they register to vote to make sure they receive their voter identification ID registration card in the mail after they’ve registered,” said Anderson. “They need to check the card to ensure that the information they’ve provided is correct. If the card is not received in that time frame, they should contact the voter’s registration office immediately to let us know they did not receive their card.”

Anderson noted that registrations must be validated before an individual can vote in an election.

“Your registration is not complete until processed and accepted by your county voter registration office,” he said. “If you don’t receive your card in 7 to 10 days, contact our office to let us know.”

Anderson said eligible voters are those who have been a U.S. citizen for 30 days before the next election, are residents of Pennsylvania and the district in which they plan to vote at least 30 days before the next election, and are at least 18 years of age on the day of the next election.

The Pennsylvania Voter Registration Application, which is also available in Spanish on the county’s website, is also obtainable via several sources, said Anderson, and is a one-page form that contains a maximum of 10 steps to complete.

An online application can be printed via the county’s voter registration website and either dropped off at Room 209 at 400 S. 8th St. in Lebanon, mailed to that address or filled out electronically at vote.pa.gov. New registrants can also register at their local Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Photo License and Driver’s License centers.

Since starting his job in 2016, Anderson said the voter registration process, and voting itself, has become much easier.

“I think it (voter turnout) is getting better because we’ve made it a lot easier to register to vote, more than it has ever before,” he said. “With mail-in balloting for those who have a hard time getting to their polling place on election day, they can vote by mail now. They can also vote here or they can continue to vote at one of the 60 precincts on election day.”

The internet has also improved access to and the availability of election information, added Anderson.

“We use the Lebanon County website under the voter registration tab, and we put as much information on there as we can,” he said. “The ballot will be out there soon, as soon as it is approved, the sample ballot will be out there and you can scroll down and see who will be on the ballot. Right now, we have a candidate list so people can scroll down through and see who’s running. We try to put as much information on that page as possible.”

Also included on the county’s website, Anderson noted, are polling locations and how to apply for a mail-in ballot, and he added that individuals can also visit vote.pa.gov for a full listing of election information.

Anderson said that people who have moved must change their address with local officials with their new home address and those who have not voted in at least one of the past two presidential elections must re-register to vote.

“We have a process called ‘list maintenance’ after a federal election for those who have not voted in that time frame because we are required by federal law to remove those individuals who haven’t voted during two consecutive federal election cycles,” said Anderson. “We did perform that list purge as required by law at the beginning of 2021.”

The primary reason people are purged from voter rolls is because they forget to change their address with their former county voter registration office after they’ve moved, he explained.

“The last thing that people think of when moving is canceling their voter registration, which they have to do to vote at their new location,” Anderson said. “A big reason we purge people is because they have moved and they haven’t told us. We can’t just remove them until we receive notification in writing that they have moved, that they no longer live there or they hit the statutory limit of so many days and have missed so many elections before, by law, they can be removed.”

Anderson added that the issue of forgetting to change your voter registration frequently occurs with individuals who have moved out of their parent’s home.

“One of the things we run across, especially with kids, is that a parent will see their name in a poll book and they’ll call us,” said Anderson. “Some are very good about it, some are very angry at us. We explain to them that your child never changed their registration with us when they moved out of state and that’s why they are still in the poll book. They’ll say, ‘I know my kid is registered in Virginia’ but that does not cancel their registration in Pennsylvania.”

Anderson said a parental notification to the county voter office that their child has moved is not legal authorization. Election officials must have a signed document from the person who has moved, and he added that notification can be made online or via a Change of Voter Registration form that can be mailed to the person who has moved.

Read More: Past elections coverage on LebTown

Anderson emphasized that he believes individuals are not attempting to commit voter fraud, adding that they simply forget to change their address. Concerning perjury, the penalties are quite stiff for anyone who decides to commit that crime.

The voter registration form states that: “If a person signs an official registration application knowing a statement declared in the application to be false, makes a false registration, or furnishes false information, the person commits perjury. Perjury is punishable, upon conviction, by a term of imprisonment not exceeding seven years, or a fine not exceeding $15,000, or both, at the discretion of the court.”

Anderson added that he has not encountered a single case of an individual committing voter fraud in the five years he has served as the county’s top election official.

“No, not at all,” replied Anderson. “The closest thing we’ve ever had is a couple times where we had reports where someone is not registered at a certain location, and the election code covers exactly what has to be done in terms of contesting and things like that. We’ll do friendly letters to follow-up with some to ensure that we have their address right.”

Anderson added that the county’s voter office did receive a few multiple mail-in ballots in 2020 from voters who were informed to destroy their first ballot if it did happen to arrive after a second ballot was sent to them.

“I don’t think that was deliberately fraudulent but the second ballot was marked as such and I am sure that these individuals just wanted to make sure that we got their vote,” he said. “But we caught those and destroyed the first ballot. If we would have thought that people were trying to be fraudulent as opposed to not listening to our instructions, we would have forwarded that to the district attorney’s office.”

Anderson noted one way to commit perjury is to lie on a voter registration application.

“When you register to vote you are making a declaration that you’ve read the form and that you are providing the correct information,” he explained. “You are certifying that you are 18 years old, you are a United States citizen and that you are living where you say you are living.”

In Lebanon County, there are 90,245 residents registered to vote of the 110,738 residents, as of the 2020 Census, who are 18 years of age and older, which represents nearly 81.5% of all individuals who are old enough to cast a ballot in an election.

Upcoming election dates of note for voters include:

  • Nov. 2, 2021 – Municipal Election
  • May 17, 2022 – General Primary Election
  • Nov. 8, 2022 – General Election
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James Mentzer

James Mentzer is a freelance writer whose published works include the books Pennsylvania Manufacturing: Alive and Well; Bucks County: A Snapshot in Time; United States Merchant Marine Academy: In Service to the Nation 1943-2018; A Century of Excellence: Spring Brook Country Club 1921-2021; and Lancaster...