By: Kathy Vest
Chester Election Commission Administrator
As we approach the upcoming Local General and Federal/State Primary Election, we are mindful that we are facing unprecedented circumstances. We’ve never had an election during a pandemic so it is necessary for us to adjust accordingly. There are three major priorities shaping our plans. First is to continue to conduct fair and honest elections with the utmost integrity. We also want every Chester County resident that is eligible to vote to have the opportunity to do so. Finally, we want to ensure the safety of our voters and poll officials. For those reasons, you may see some changes in the way you vote in this election. There are three ways voters can participate and we want everyone to know what to expect.
The first opportunity is Early Voting. This option is open to any registered voter in Chester County. Early Voting begins July 17 and goes through August 1. Early Voting Polls will open each day, Monday through Saturday, at 8:30 a.m., and will close at 4 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, and on Thursdays at 7 p.m. for late night voting. Polls will close at Noon on Saturdays. Each morning, prior to the polls opening, the Early Voting area and all equipment will be sprayed with a disinfecting fog. We encourage anyone who may be at risk to take advantage of early morning voting for this reason. When you enter the polling location you will notice there will be a very structured flow of traffic as we endeavor to practice appropriate social distancing. Each voter will receive a personal packet including everything they will need in order to vote. There will be limited contact with our poll officials. Nonetheless, they will all be wearing appropriate personal protective equipment and we encourage all voters to do the same. Machines will be sanitized between voters and there will be an abundance of hand sanitizer available for everyone.
Election Day will be August 6. Polls that day will open at 8 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Voters must appear at their assigned voting precinct to vote on Election Day. Prior to polls opening, all precincts will be sanitized with the disinfecting fog. The same safety procedures will be in place on Election Day as for Early Voting.
The final opportunity for voters to participate in this election is by Absentee Ballot. Because of concerns relative to COVID-19, Absentee Voting is now available to any registered voter. Historically, this was not the case but now, all it takes is a phone call to the Election Office to request an Application for Absentee Ballot. The only exception is for voters who have registered online or never voted in person. The law does require that you personally appear at the Election Office with proper identification prior to receiving an Absentee Ballot. Voters are encouraged to contact the Election Office with any questions they may have about the process. The last day to file an Application for Absentee Ballot is July 30, 2020 and all ballots must be received by close of business on Election Day.
For further information, a sample ballot, or to download an Application for Absentee Ballot, consult the Chester County Election Commission website at chesterelection.com or call the Election Office at (731) 989-4039.