MEADVILLE – The Crawford County commissioners addressed the rising number of complaints they said the elections office has received regarding applications for mail-in and absentee ballots for the upcoming general election during their work session on Wednesday.

Commissioner Christopher Soff, who also serves as the elections board chairman, said the elections office has received numerous complaints from residents saying they have been solicited by outside organizations, such as campaigns and national party organizations, through marketing in the mail that claims to help them apply for mail-in and absentee ballots.

Most of these so-called applications are outdated, however, and some are being sent to families of deceased residents, Soff said. He added that the elections office does not distribute any such material, and those who wish to submit a request for a mail-in or absentee ballot need to contact the elections office directly to do so.

“All we can do is apologize that you’re receiving them, and that they’re not coming from the county,” Soff said, adding that they are working on a Frequently Asked Questions sheet that residents can reference regarding the issue.

The elections office has already received about 6,800 applications for mail-in and absentee ballots just under nine weeks before the Nov. 3 election, Soff said. Comparatively, the office received about 8,000 requests for mail-in and absentee ballots for the primary election in May and about 1,300 requests for absentee ballots for the 2016 general election.

To help with the anticipated influx of mail-in and absentee ballots for the upcoming election, one of the items discussed at Wednesday’s work session was the purchase of high-speed envelope openers, costing $2,397, that Soff said should hopefully make the mail-in and absentee ballot process easier for the elections office. The commissioners will make an official vote on the move at next week’s voting meeting.

The commissioners will also vote next week on whether or not to increase the pay of poll workers, including judges of election, clerks, minority inspectors and majority inspectors, by $5 across the board. Soff said it has been a long time since the poll workers received a pay raise, and Commissioner Eric Henry commented that the raise is “well-deserved.”

The Crawford County commissioners will meet next at 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 9 in the Assembly Room of the Crawford County Courthouse in Meadville.

Herdle can be reached by email at news@titusvilleherald.com.

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