HOLLIDAYSBURG - The Blair County Commissioners said Tuesday they will provide more help for the county's Voter Registration Office, which is swamped with new registrations, name and address changes and requests for absentee ballots as the presidential election draws near.
Board chairman Terry Tomassetti said the "peak" for preparations for the Nov. 6 elections is coming, and he said the commissioners, who constitute the Board of Elections, "is looking to make sure the staff is appropriate."
He said the county will exercise "due diligence to make sure we are prepared."
Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich
Voter registration clerk Beth Adams sorts and organizes boxes filled with absentee ballots for the upcoming election Tuesday at the Blair County Courthouse.
Beth Adams, who works in the office in the courthouse basement, said the county is receiving anywhere from 60 to 100 new registrations daily.
She hasn't had time to compile the numbers, whether the new registrations are Republican, Democrat, Independent or other.
All she knows, she said, is that literally thousands of new registrations have come in to the voter registration office since the primary election. She estimated 300 new registrations are coming in each week.
Adams said the last day to register to vote in the November election is Oct. 9 and the last day to apply for an absentee ballot is Oct. 30.
Blair County Director of Elections Ingrid Healy-Tucker is tackling the job of training the almost 500 poll workers who will oversee voting at the precinct level as well as enforce the state's mandate that voters show an identification card at the polls.
Healy-Tucker said training sessions are scheduled for the next couple of weeks at the Church of the Good Shepherd, 1650 Clay Ave., Tyrone, and at the county's highway garage in Hollidaysburg.
The Pennsylvania Department of State has instructed county election directors to train poll workers as if the voter identification law will be in effect on Election Day, even though the state's appeals courts are still reviewing challenges to the law. The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court is expected to rule soon on the matter.
Most of the calls Healy-Tucker's office has received about the voter ID law are from people wanting to know what form of identification can be used. She said most people have a driver's license, which is acceptable, but she said other IDs can be used, such as a military service ID.
Adams said that voter registration forms can be obtained at state liquor stores, libraries and municipalities. A form can also be downloaded at votespa.com. Registration forms must then be sent to the county registration office where the person resides.
The name on the photo ID a voter presents at his precinct must match the person's name in the voter registration book, she said.
Adams said the deadline for change of address, name or party affiliation is Oct. 9, the same as the deadline for registering.
She said many college students are registering this year, such as those at Penn State Altoona. She said if the students intend to vote in Blair County on Election Day, they must list their Blair County address on the registration forms.