Thousands of mail-in ballots requested by voters in Butler County, Pennsylvania, could be lost, a county official estimated on Wednesday.
Trib Live reports Butler County Commissioner Leslie Osche is making that estimate based on anecdotal data:
Nearly 40,000 registered voters in the county requested mail ballots. So far, only 24% of them have been returned to the county, by far the lowest rate among the state’s 67 counties. The county with the next-lowest return rate, Fayette, has received 50% of requested ballots. […] Exactly how many ballots were lost remains under investigation, though Osche said she believes the number could be in the thousands given the high volume of calls and emails related to missing ballots fielded by county officials during the past week.
“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 told the paper.
Aaron Sheasely, Butler County’s elections bureau director, made the announcement regarding the lost ballots while meeting with county commissioners, The Butler Eagle first reported.
Sheasely stated that USPS officers notified him that an investigation into the matter had been opened.
“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,” the USPS said in a statement first obtained by KDKA.
Meanwhile, Sheasley asked residents who have not received their mail-in ballots to instead vote in person, saying, “Those votes will absolutely be counted.”
With six days until Election Day, Pennsylvania’s top elections official on Wednesday urged voters in the presidential battleground state who have one of the roughly one million mail-in ballots outstanding to drop it off in person rather than mail it.
In addition to concerns over Postal Service delays, litigation in front of the U.S. Supreme Court is raising doubts over the timing of the deadline for counties to receive mail-in ballots.
The state Republican Party is asking the court to reinstate an Election Day deadline for receiving ballots, rather than the state court-ordered Nov. 6, three days after the election.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.