Dead­line is Mon­day to reg­is­ter to vote

The Morning Call - - State / Region - By Tom Short­ell Morn­ing Call re­porter Tom Short­ell can be reached at 610-8206168 or tshort­ell@mcall.com.

Penn­syl­va­nia pro­cras­ti­na­tors have only a few days left to reg­is­ter to vote if they want to cast a bal­lot in the up­com­ing pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Would-be vot­ers have un­til Mon­day to com­plete a voter reg­is­tra­tion form. The ap­pli­ca­tions can be com­pleted on­line at votes.pa.com un­til 11:59 p.m. Those com­plet­ing a pa­per reg­is­tra­tion form must turn it in to their elec­tion of­fice no later than 5 p.m ., though some county elec­tion of­fices may close ear­lier than that.

To be el­i­gi­ble, vot­ers must be 18 years or older by Elec­tion Day, a U.S. cit­i­zen for at least 30 days and a res­i­dent of Penn­syl­va­nia for at least 30days. Thisyear, the res­i­dent dead­line was Oct. 4.

Ev­ery vote will be closely watched in Penn­syl­va­nia, which many poll watch­ers and elec­tion ob­servers have iden­ti­fied as a crit­i­cal swing state in the pres­i­den­tial race be­tween in­cum­bent Don­ald Trump and chal­lenger Joe Bid en. Northamp­ton County in par­tic­u­lar has re­ceived attention from na­tional and in­ter­na­tional me­dia out­lets af­ter shift­ing from sup­port­ing Barack Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016.

Ac­cord­ing to fig­ures pro­vided by the Penn­syl­va­nia Depart­ment of State on Fri­day morn­ing, 8.9 mil­lion Penn­syl­va­ni­ans have reg­is­tered to vote, with Democrats hold­ing a nu­mer­i­cal ad­van­tage. The party has nearly 4.2 mil­lion mem­bers in the state, ac­count­ing for 46.7% of all reg­is­tered vot­ers. Repub­li­cans have al­most 3.5 mil­lion mem­bers, good for 38.8% of all vot­ers in the Key­stone State. The re­main­ing 1.2 mil­lion vot­ers are ei­ther reg­is­tered with a third party or un­af­fil­i­ated.

The fig­ures re­leased by the

Depart­ment of State show mem­bers of the dif­fer­ent par­ties are tak­ing dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to vot­ing. Democrats make up an over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity of those choos­ing to vote with a mail-in or ab­sen­tee bal­lots. So­far, 1.7 mil­lion Democrats have re­quested an ab­sen­tee or mail-in bal­lot, mak­ing up 64.3% of such re­quests. Repub­li­cans, by con­trast, ac­count for just 24.6% of ab­sen­tee or mail-in bal­lot re­quests with 672,381.

The dif­fer­ences mir­ror how lead­ers of the par­ties have em­braced the dif­fer­ent mea­sures. While Trump has cast his bal­lot through the mail for years, he has re­peat­edly made un­founded claims the sys­tem is ripe for fraud. Many na­tional Democrats, on the other hand, have em­braced mail-in vot­ing as a safe al­ter­na­tive given the spread of COVID-19.

Elec­tion of­fi­cials have urged vot­ers to re­turn their mail-in bal­lots as quickly as pos­si­ble due to de­lays in the U.S. Postal Ser­vice. So far, 683,132 bal­lots have been re­ceived across the state. Nearly 75% of those re­turned bal­lots have come from Democrats so far, ac­cord­ing to the State Depart­ment.

Vot­ers can re­quest a mail-in or ab­sen­tee bal­lot un­til Oct. 27, but elec­tion of­fi­cials are urg­ing peo­ple get their re­quests in as soon as pos­si­ble due to the post of­fice de­lays. Vot­ers can ap­ply on­line at votespa.com or at their lo­cal elec­tion of­fice.

Vot­ers who have not yet re­quested a mail-in bal­lot but wish to do so may be best off vis­it­ing their lo­cal elec­tion of­fice in per­son and get­ting one over the counter. Vot­ers who make th­ese trips can re­turn their bal­lot sin the same visit.

The Le­high Val­ley’s elec­tion of­fices are at 17 S. Sev­enth Street, Al­len­town, in Le­high County; and 669 Wash­ing­ton St., Eas­ton, in Northamp­ton County. Vis­i­tors are re­quired to wear a mask and sub­mit to tem­per­a­ture checks as a pre­cau­tion from the corona virus.

Vot­ers in the Le­high Val­ley also have the op­tion of re­turn­ing their mail-in bal­lots at des­ig­nated drop boxes around the re­gion. Res­i­dents should drop off their bal­lots only at their county’s drop boxes. This in­cludes res­i­dents of Beth­le­hem, which is split be­tween the two coun­ties.

Le­high County’s drop boxes are at:

Le­high County Gov­ern­ment Cen­ter, 17 S. 7th St., Al­len­town (any­time)

Catasauqua municipal build­ing, 90 Bridge St. (8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mon­day through Fri­day)

Em­maus municipal build­ing, 28 S. Fourth St. (8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mon­day through Fri­day)

North White­hall Town­ship municipal build­ing, 3256 Le­vans Road (7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mon­day through Fri­day)

Up­per Ma­cungie Town­ship municipal build­ing 8330Schant­z Road (7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mon­day through Fri­day)

Northamp­ton County’s drop boxes are at:

Beth­le­hem City Hall, 10 E. Church St. (8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mon­days through Fri­days)

Northamp­ton County Hu­man Ser­vices Build­ing, 2801 Em­rick Blvd ., Beth­le­hem Town­ship (8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mon­days through Fri­days)

Northamp­ton County Court­house, 669 Wash­ing­ton St., Eas­ton (8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mon­days through Fri­days and 8 a.m. to noon Satur­days)

Northamp­ton County 911 Cen­ter, 100 Gracedale Ave., Up­per Nazareth Town­ship (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m Mon­days through Fri­days)

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