Local Politics | Montgomery County needs to be more clear when it comes to guidance on submitting a ballot on another’s behalf

Local Politics is an as-needed column on the political scene in Montgomery County filled with speculation, opinion, and more.

It seems like every year since Pennsylvania has instituted voting by drop box, Montgomery County has poorly and/or incorrectly explained the process of when someone can cast a ballot on someone else’s behalf.

This year is no different.

From the county website, on a page dedicated to voting via drop box, it states:

Pursuant to the Pennsylvania Election Code, voted ballots may only be returned by the individual voter and not by any other individuals. 

The above sentence is the lone sentence in a paragraph. There are not any exceptions offered. The problem is, there is an exception. Someone can legally cast a ballot on someone’s behalf.

This exception isn’t mentioned until the following paragraph and only after a sentence about CCTV video surveillance.

From the same page on the county’s website:

All drop box locations are monitored using CCTV video surveillance. Anyone depositing a ballot that does not belong to them without a Designated Agent Form will be referred to the District Attorney’s Office.

So if you were hoping to return a ballot for a sick friend, you rightly would have believed that you found the answer to that question when you read that “voted ballots may only be returned by the individual voter and not by any other individuals” and stopped reading.

And this isn’t the only issue.

On the drop box page, it eventually offers some details about how to obtain a ballot that will be used under the Designated Agent Form process. It states:

The agent can only pick up or drop off ballots for voters who are in the same household, and the ballot can only be picked up at the Voter Services Office located at 425 Swede St., Norristown, PA. 

On the county’s website under the frequently asked questions page for Voter Services, it states:

The ballot can be picked up and dropped off at a satellite office, mailed/dropped off to our office at 425 Swede St in Norristown or dropped off at a ballot drop box too.

So on one page it states you can “only” go to the main office. Under frequently asked questions, it mentions a “satellite office.”

So which one is right?

You would think the same people who think it is too hard to obtain a photo ID would spend a little more time making sure voter guidance is clear.

With all the issues, perceived or not, on the integrity of elections, the county must commit to take the time to be crystal clear on every aspect of an election.