About 7,000 mail-in ballots are expected to be used in the upcoming 2023 municipal primary election on May 16. 

Elections director Sean Drasher reported that figure to the Lebanon County election board at a meeting on Thursday, April 6. The board also voted unanimously to approve the ballot to be used by voters in the election. 

Drasher said the county has received 5,400 mail-in ballot requests and 430 absentee ballot requests to date. The total number of mailed ballots, he added, is expected to mirror the last municipal election cycle.

“We are ready to roll with those (the ballots),” said Drasher. “We have printers lined up and waiting at this time. Literally, the envelopes have already been printed, a bunch of stuff is ready to go.”

Drasher said all of the mail-in and absentee ballots – barring any unexpected complications – should hit the mail this week. 

“The data is already at the mail house and we’re this close to greenlighting it,” he said. “The mail-in ballots will then start rolling off the printers, so that will have them out early next week. The exact day it hits the post office, I’m not sure, but early next week. That puts us many weeks ahead of schedule and I couldn’t be happier about the situation – we’re in a very good place this time.”

Drasher reported to the election board that his department was working to finish Logic & Accuracy testing of test ballots before county offices were closed for the Easter weekend.

The county election board, which normally consists of the three commissioners, has temporary members who were appointed by President Judge John Tylwalk to serve one-year terms since all three county commissioners are running for re-election this year. 

An employee of William Penn Printing of Pittsburgh runs a Logic & Accuracy test of sample ballots for the county’s primary election. Mail-in ballots must be received by 8 p.m. on May 16.

“We are running 5,000 test ballots through the machinery to ensure the machines are accurately reading what (votes) the test ballot has,” said Drasher. “We do that for all our voting machinery…”

Drasher also presented to the election board the new mail-in ballot mail package, adding that the envelope cover has been redesigned. 

“They will look pretty different, but the contents are the same,” said Drasher. “Secrecy envelope, ballot, and return envelope. And these are the return envelopes that will be processed through our new machine down the hall.” 

Drasher noted a feature allows county election officials to track ballots as they move through the postal system. A cellophane opening in the envelope will contain data that the machine can track once the envelope is processed through its system.

“These new ballots allow us to do ballot tracking through the mail as well,” said Drasher. “This will make a huge difference, we’ve never had this before. I’m very excited about that. If a voter calls us, we’ll be able to say, ‘It went out on Wednesday, and then hit the post office hub in your area on Friday, and you should expect delivery Saturday.’”

Following the meeting, Drasher gave LebTown a demonstration of the new mail-in ballot processing machine, which was purchased late last year. He noted this is the first election in which the machine will be used to process mail-in ballots.  

“The machine is able to process 2,500 envelopes an hour,” said Drasher. “Before we had this machine, we had to hand scan all of these envelopes and bring in temporary workers to help process the envelopes. Now, we’re at minutes instead of hours.”

Drasher said a report is generated after the envelopes are scanned and information is sent to a database, adding that after a mail-in ballot is received, it is processed and voters will be notified that the ballot has been delivered, processed, and safely secured within the department’s vault. 

LebTown asked Drasher whether someone who has requested a mail-in ballot in the past will automatically receive one in the future.

“You can indicate that you want to be a permanent mail-in ballot voter, but that doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get one,” said Drasher. “We have to verify you still want to get one for security reasons, right? So, they can say, ‘Make me a permanent,’ but then you’ll get a letter in February that says, ‘OK, it’s a new year, do you still want to receive a mail-in ballot, please confirm you still want that for this year,’ and they have to let us know.”

Drasher noted that if a voter who has chosen the permanent designation but does not confirm that they want a mail-in ballot for that election year, one will not be sent to them. “They have to proactively tell us that they want it,” he added. 

Here are important dates for voters to remember for the 2023 election calendar: 

  • May 1 – Last day to register for the primary election.
  • May 9 – Last day to request a mail-in or civilian absentee ballot.
  • May 16 – Last day to receive voted mail-in and civilian absentee ballots (must be received by 8 p.m.).
  • May 16 – Municipal Primary Election Day.
  • May 23 – Last day to receive voted military and overseas absentee ballots (submitted for delivery no later than 11:59 p.m. on May 15).
  • Oct. 23 – Last day to register before the November election.
  • Oct. 31 – Last day to apply for a mail-in ballot or civilian absentee ballot.
  • Nov. 7 – Last day for the election board to receive voted mail-in and civilian absentee ballots (must be received by 8 p.m.).
  • Nov. 7 – Municipal Election Day.
Questions about this story? Suggestions for a future LebTown article? Reach our newsroom using this contact form and we’ll do our best to get back to you.

Do you want to see more from LebTown?

Support local news. Cancel anytime.

Already a member? Login here

Free news isn’t cheap. If you value the journalism LebTown provides to the community, then help us make it sustainable by becoming a champion of local news. You can unlock additional coverage for the community by supporting our work with a one-time contribution, or joining as a monthly or annual member. You can cancel anytime.

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...