HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania is launching a new option for voters to apply online for an absentee ballot starting with the November election.
In previous elections, voters’ only choice was to complete a paper absentee ballot application and mail or hand-deliver it to their county election office for processing.
The mobile-friendly, online application site, at votesPA.com/ApplyAbsentee, will go live on Monday, Sept. 16, the first day that registered voters may apply for absentee ballots for the Nov. 5 election.
When an applicant completes the online form, the information is forwarded directly to the appropriate county elections office for processing. Voters must still mail or hand-deliver their completed ballot to their county election office by the deadline, which is 5 p.m. on the Friday before the election, or Nov. 1 this year.
Clearfield County Director of Elections Dawn Graham said her office was just trained for the online registration last week.
“We knew it was coming, but didn’t realize it was going to be for this election,” Graham said.
According to Graham, the the new online option is an electronic application to apply for an absentee ballot. Applicants must have a valid Pennsylvania Drivers License to use the online system.
“(The application) will then be sent to us, we will check it every day, and we will send the ballots to the voters,” Graham explained. She stressed that the online option is for an application only — it does not allow voters to print an absentee ballot at home or vote online.
Despite the ease of the online option, Graham said she doesn’t anticipate the change decreasing the workload in her office.
“This won’t decrease anything,” Graham said. “If anything, it might increase the number of absentee ballots. It will be easier for the voters to resuest one. It also verifies right away that it is the correct identification, becuse you do have to provide ID for absentee voting.”
In a non-Presidential election, Graham said the county typically sees about 200 to 300 absentee ballots. She said is not anticipating a notable increase in applications for the November election.
“I dont know if there will be a big increase for this election, but maybe for the spring Primary, with it being a Presidential election year. I think it will become a lot more popular next year,” Graham said, adding that the number of absentee ballots typically increases to around 2,000 in a Presidential election year.
“Once the word gets out, (the online application) is going to be used heavily,” Graham predicted.
“Applying for an absentee ballot online will make the process faster and more accessible for thousands of voters,” said Wolf. “This builds on the option to register to vote online which Pennsylvania launched four years ago and it will provide an easier way for people to exercise their right to vote.”
Initially, online absentee ballot applications will require a PennDOT driver license or ID number in order to be processed electronically. The department is planning an update by 2020 that will allow use by applicants who do not have a PennDOT number.
The PA Election Code allows registered voters to apply for an absentee ballot up until one week before an election, which is just three days before the deadline to submit a voted absentee ballot. This year, the deadline to apply by paper or online is 5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 29.
The system is currently accessible to all domestic Pennsylvania voters, and will be available to military and overseas voters by 2020.
Absentee ballots may be cast by individuals with illnesses or disabilities, individuals who will be away from their municipality on business on Election Day, and Pennsylvania students attending out-of-state colleges or universities, among others.
For more information on voting by absentee ballots, visit votespa.com.
The trial of a Clearfield woman accused of inappropriately touching a 17-year-old student at Clearfield County Career and Technology Center got underway before Judge Paul Cherry yesterday at the Clearfield County Courthouse.
Edna Spencer, 60, is charged with corruption of minors and indecent assault.
The victim testified during direct examination by Clearfield County District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr., that on March 15, 2018, she was a 17-year-old culinary arts student.
She arrived at school at about 8 a.m. and went into the locker room to change into her chef’s uniform. Her 15-year-old friend had already arrived and she was in the locker room when she entered.
Spencer, who was an aide for another student and employed with Clearfield Area School District, entered the locker room and used the restroom. The victim testified she was facing the lockers in her underwear when Spencer walked by, and allegedly touched her inappropriately before exiting.
The girl said she and her friend spoke to each other about the incident when a second friend entered the locker room, and they told her about what happened. The girls later reported the incident to the guidance counselor, Catherine McKendrick who told them to see Principal Fred Redden.
The victim said all three of the girls provided written statements and gave them to Redden; additional written statements were provided to a Lawrence Township Police officer at a later date.
The victim testified that sometimes during class, Spencer would compliment them on their cooking and touch the girls on the back or rear, but it was always over her clothes, and this occurred about once a month. The victim said she reported the locker room incident because Spencer touched her bare skin and she was partially dressed at the time.
During cross-examination, Spencer’s attorney, Chris Mohney of DuBois, asked her if she discussed the incident with the two other girls in the locker room before going to the office and she said they did.
He asked her if the three of them discussed what they were going to say as they walked to the office and she said they did.
Mohney asked if Redden ever interviewed her separately from the other two girls and she said he didn’t, he interviewed all three of them together and said she never spoke to Redden alone about the incident.
Mohney then showed the victim the written statement she gave to Redden, and noted that in it, she didn’t mention anything about being touched, but wrote about inappropriate verbal statements.
Mohney then showed the victim the written statement she gave to police, and said she wrote that Spencer had touched her sides and she said she did write it.
The victim’s friend who was in the locker room gave similar testimony, but she said Spencer said something slightly different after touching the victim on her sides. She said Spencer left the locker room immediately after the incident. She also gave similar statement to the alleged victim about Spencer touching them in class from time to time.
During cross-examination by Mohney, the girl said she didn’t report Spencer about the incidents in the classroom because she thought Spencer was giving them compliments and didn’t ‘t want to see her get into trouble.
She said she doesn’t believe Spencer should lose her job or face charges for the locker room incident, but believed what Spencer did was wrong.
She also said when interviewed by Redden and police, the three girls were always together and they were not interviewed individually.
During re-direct by Shaw. the witness said no one told her what to write in her written statement.
The second witness who entered the locker room after the incident occurred gave similar testimony as the other two girls of what happened afterward.
Redden testified that after hearing the girls account of what happened, he spoke to Spencer, who admitted to touching the girl on the side but said she did not rub her, and didn’t do it maliciously.
After speaking to Spencer, Redden said he reported the incident on Child Line as mandated and called Spencer’s employer. Spencer was eventually removed from the building and has not returned since.
During cross-examination by Mohney, Redden was asked if he spoke to any other students about the incident. Redden said he was contacted by the police who asked if they could talk to the other girls in the class. None of the other girls had any complaints about Spencer or saw her do anything inappropriate.
He also said he knew Spencer for many years and said he didn’t have any complaints about her prior to this incident.
The trial will continue today.
HYDE — Three local men are facing charges by Lawrence Township Police stemming from an alleged assault that occurred Saturday at the Hyde Uni Mart, 1703 Washington Ave.
Police received a report about the incident and upon investigation, it was learned that three Clearfield men allegedly assaulted a 63-year-old male in an unprovoked fight due to a previous civil matter.
During the altercation, the victim sustained injuries and was allegedly choked by the men, who fled prior to police arrival.
According to the police report, officers have charged George Irvin, 37, Jason Peters, 44, and Jeffrey Peters, 46, all of Clearfield, with assault-related charges at District Judge J. Michael Morris’ office. The affidavits were not yet available as of press time on Monday.