Nearly 40,000 registered voters in the county requested mail-in ballots, but only about 24 percent of them have been returned back to the county so far, authorities said.
“At first we thought that maybe it just was a delay in the postal system” due to the high number of requests, Leslie Osche, chair of the Butler County commissioners, was quoted by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as saying. “And that could still be the case. But nonetheless, when we realized that, we changed our strategy and now have begun to tell folks that if they haven’t received a ballot, they still have multiple options.”
“Our main focus—because it’s too late now to worry about this—we need to make sure we get these people their ballots,” Osche added.
A U.S. Postal Service (USPS) spokesperson told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the agency is “unaware of any significant delays or issues and is in regular contact with the Board of Election as we work to locate and deliver ballots as they are presented to us.” As of Tuesday, voters in Pennsylvania cannot apply for a mail-in or absentee ballot.
A local county official, Aaron Sheasley, told CNN Friday that the county has received more than 10,000 phone calls about information related to the ballots that were requested but not received.
“Somewhere between the post office and the Pittsburgh sorting facility something happened,” Sheasley told the network. “We don’t know what.” He added: “We haven’t given out any numbers” about the number of missing ballots “because we simply don’t know.”
Speaking to CNN, Chuck Bugar, president of the American Postal Workers Union Pittsburgh chapter, said there is no record that suggests the missing ballots in Butler County made it to a Postal Service facility.
“There’s no pile of ballots that have been taken from the Butler County election committee that are sitting around,” Bugar said. “There’s no record or indication that they entered the mail stream. There’s paperwork that goes along with it.”
Butler County voted for President Donald Trump over Democrat rival Hillary Clinton in 2016 about 66 percent to 29 percent. The county is located north of Pittsburgh and has approximately 150,000 registered voters. In 2020, both Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden have been holding events and rallies, vying to secure the key battleground state with 20 electoral votes.
The county told the Post-Gazette that voters can come to the Bureau of Elections and vote in person, provide them with identification, and officials will then give them a new mail-in ballot that a voter can return immediately. The original ballot that was mailed will be voided.
They also said that voters can vote at a local polling place in the county. Other alternatives are also provided.