State officials give update on COVID concerns, funds available for pre-canvassing help

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The state departments of health and state are making sure we’re ready for election day.

That means safety and security measures in place to keep everyone healthy and make sure all ballots are counted.

As of Friday morning, more than 2.3 million Pennsylvanians have already voted.
That’s about 73% of all mail-in and absentee ballots requested.

Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar is again urging everyone to return your ballot “as soon as humanly possible. Don’t gamble with your vote. Don’t think about the court decisions,” she said.

At this point, she recommends hand delivering it to your county election office.

Even with so many mail-in ballots, seven counties plan on counting those after election day.

“Even if you can only do part, to get started as early as humanly possible on election day matters for every single county,” Boockvar said.

Some counties are citing a lack of resources but Boockvar says federal money is waiting to be claimed.

“Hundreds of thousands of dollars have not been sought by four of the counties. Five of the counties have not sought anything under one of the two grants,” Boockvar said.

There are also private grants still available to all seven counties.

As for those voting in-person, Health Sec. Dr. Rachel Levine says everyone should make a plan.

“Your COVID kit should include a mask,. hand sanitizer, a blue or black pen,” Levine said.

She also recommends downloading the COVID Alert PA app, which almost 400,000 people have already done.

Poll workers will sanitize stations between use and voters will be asked to stand six feet apart and wear masks.

On Thursday, the Department of State also updated its guidelines for poll watchers.

“Any poll watcher or authorized representative who refuses to wear a mask or face covering will be asked to leave the polling place or the pre-canvass or canvassi they refuse to comply,” Boockvar said.

Boockvar says the Commonwealth is prepared and doesn’t expect any safety problems on election day.

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