An investigation by the U.S. Postal Service has not yet determined why 268 Lancaster County mail-in ballots postmarked more than a week before the Nov. 7, 2023, election did not arrive in time to be counted, Commissioner Ray D’Agostino said Tuesday.
The ballots, which were postmarked Oct. 30 in Harrisburg, arrived at the county Elections Office on Monday, Nov. 13, D’Agostino said in a brief update at the commissioners’ Tuesday work session. Under Pennsylvania law, a ballot must arrive by the close of balloting on Election Day to be counted; a postmark is insufficient.
The postal service has been working with the county Elections Office and its ballot vendor, NPC, and it will continue to do so, D’Agostino said.
The issue is certainly of concern to the county. It appears the USPS is taking it seriously, too, and that’s appreciated, he said.
Postal Service spokesman Mark Lawrence did not immediately have a comment. (Update: In an email Thursday evening, Lawrence confirmed the Postal Service is aware of the situation, saying: “The U.S. Postal Service is fully committed to the secure, timely delivery of the nation’s Election Mail. … We have reviewed the processes involved and continue to work with the Board of Elections.”)
The delay in arrival was first publicly reported at the start of December. At that time, officials put the number of delayed ballots at 100 to 150.
Mail in Lancaster County normally goes to Harrisburg for sorting. However, the Lancaster post office sits next to the County Government Center where the county Elections Office is housed, and local post office staff had been making efforts to pull ballots and segregate them for direct delivery to the county, LNP reported.
Voters who fear their mail-in ballots might not count are allowed to vote by provisional ballot on Election Day. LNP reported that some voters did so, but that some lost their vote because of delay.