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Calling all voters - it's time to register

September 19, 2004|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

TRISTATE - With voter registration deadlines approaching, Tri-State election officials are busy processing absentee ballots, training poll workers and making sure that voting machines are working properly in time for the Nov. 2 general election.

In Franklin County, Pa., election registrar Jennie Aines said her office is preparing to mail out military absentee applications by Monday.

"Once we mail them out, they (military personnel) have to vote and return the ballot by the Oct. 29 deadline," Aines said.

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Aines said she recently received a letter from the U.S. Postal Service regarding delivery time.

"The postal service and the Department of Defense postal service are combining efforts to expedite the delivery of ballots from military post offices overseas," Aines said, referencing a portion of the letter.

Aines said the effort hopefully will speed up military mail delivery domestically and abroad.

Franklin County voters have until Oct. 26 to apply for an absentee ballot, which must be returned by 5 p.m. on Oct. 29. In Pennsylvania, voter registration and absentee ballot applications may be obtained online at www.votespa.com.

In Washington County, Election Director Dorothy Kaetzel said her office has mailed out 1,200 requests for absentee ballots and trained 45 new election judges.

Washington County voters have until Oct. 26 to apply for mailed absentee ballots, which have to be returned by 8 p.m. on Nov. 2 and postmarked prior to Nov. 2. The ballots must arrive at the Washington County Board of Elections by 4 p.m. on Nov. 3, Kaetzel said.

Late absentee ballots may be picked up in person or by a personal representative between Oct. 27 and Nov. 2, according to an election official. Washington County absentee applications also may be obtained online at www.washco-md.net/election/elect1.html.

In Jefferson County, W.Va., election official Debbie Pittinger is busy trying to fill four poll worker positions before next month's training classes.

"I'm trying to recruit high school students," Pittinger said. "Those eligible have to be registered to vote. We had quite a few student workers for the primary election."

Jefferson County will mail out absentee ballots on Tuesday, and Pittinger said her staff also is performing maintenance checks on the voting machines.

"We want to make sure nothing is wrong with the punching apparatus," she said.

In Berkeley County, W.Va., election office staff are putting in long days. The staff of five people is working evenings and weekends just to keep up.

"To date, we have 300 registration cards that we're trying to get done," Deputy Clerk Bonnie Woodfall said.

Between Sept. 9 and 14, she said her office handled 320 new voter registrations.

In West Virginia, Oct. 27 is the deadline to apply for an absentee ballot, which must be returned in person or postmarked by Nov. 2, according to Jason Williams of the state's Office of Elections.

Voter registration and absentee ballot applications for West Virginia voters also may be obtained online at www.wvsos.com.

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