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Missing ballots puzzle western Pennsylvania county officials

October 29, 2020 GMT

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — The state’s top elections official said Thursday she wants federal postal authorities to help figure out why some ballots that were mailed out by a western Pennsylvania county have not been delivered to voters.

Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said there are problems in Butler County and some other parts of the state, five days before the general election.

“I actually just traded voicemails with somebody in the United States Postal Service up at the higher levels to make sure that they’re … paying attention to this and finding out what’s going on,” Boockvar said during an election preparedness news conference in Harrisburg.

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Postal Service spokesman David Partenheimer said the agency was unaware of the problems in Butler County.

“Regarding mail sorting and delivery in Butler County, the Postal Service 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,” Partenheimer said.

It’s unclear how many ballots have not arrived for the voters who requested them, although county officials said they believe the problem is confined to two separate days of outgoing mail.

The county was sending out about a thousand ballots a day during that period, said Butler County Commissioner Kevin Boozel.

Boozel, the lone Democrat on the county board in Butler, a heavily Republican county north of Pittsburgh with about 190,00 residents, said his elections office has been flooded with calls and is working to get replacement ballots into the hands of the voters who requested them.

Boozel said the county keeps track of how many they send out, but those numbers are higher than the figures the Postal Service has for how many they processed.

“We know how many ran through,” he said late Wednesday. “We paid for more than they’re saying they received.”

Boockvar stressed that voters who ordered a mail-in ballot that never arrived should obtain a replacement ballot from their county elections office. They can also vote in person on Election Day by provisional ballot.

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Associated Press writer Anthony Izaguirre in Lindenhurst, New York, contributed to this story.