Midstate elections, security officials on what you should know before voting

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Voting begins in Pennsylvania bright and early Tuesday, and there are some things you need to before you head to the polls.

There are 160 polling places in Dauphin County alone, all of them being prepared Monday. As officials here and around the state got ready, they said Election Day should run pretty smoothly.

“This is not our first presidential election,” said Chad Saylor, chief clerk for the Dauphin County commissioners.

It’s an unusual one, but Saylor said the 1980s voting machines will work like any other year.

“That’s one of about 500 that are being distributed throughout the county today,” Saylor said, motioning to the bulky machine behind him. “Each one has been tested three times.”

In addition, the county has processed 5,000 absentee ballots and taken them to the appropriate polling places.

The Pennsylvania Department of State believes everything will run smoothly; the state’s Office of Homeland Security has been preparing for a while now.

“We have not seen any specific threats to Pennsylvania,” Homeland Security director Marcus Brown said in a phone interview Monday.

The agency is working with state and federal law enforcement to monitor security, he said.

“We’ve reached out to emergency management in every county to ensure that law enforcement is aware of all the polling locations and making sure that they’re giving them special attention,” Brown said.

But you won’t see police patrolling close to the ballot boxes. It’s illegal for any active law enforcement officer — even if not in uniform — to come within 100 feet of a polling place (unless they’re voting), State Department press secretary Wanda Murren said.

Instead, the state uses constables as security. The state’s website lists 25 constables in Dauphin County.

There are no plans to increase the number of constables stationed at polling places, Murren said, or to bring in other security.

The state’s emergency management agency will be activated throughout the day to get resources to any part of the state in case there are serious problems.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. – 8 p.m.

There will probably be long lines at many polling places, but as long as you’re in line by 8, you’ll be allowed to vote no matter how late the polls have to stay open.

Make sure you’re prepared: If it’s your first time voting at that polling place, you’ll need to bring ID.

“Can be just about anything,” Saylor said. “Driver’s license, library card. Anything just to verify who you are.”

Here’s a full list of types of identification you can use to vote.

While you’re there, don’t freak out if you see someone with a gun; it’s legal to carry those into vote as long as the polling place isn’t a school or courthouse.

But if you do feel intimidated, the best thing to do, Murren said, is to talk to the elections judge at the polling place. If you’re not happy with the response, contact the county elections office or district attorney.

You can also fill out an online complaint form here, or call the voter hotline at 1-877-VOTESPA.

Election officials say they don’t expect to run into those problems.

“Everyone is pretty well trained, ready to go,” Saylor said. “Should be a pretty good day tomorrow.”

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