PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Mail-in voting is new to Pennsylvania and satellite election offices are even newer. But some voters are questioning whether they feel confident with the process.
Seven satellite election offices opened in Philadelphia on Sept. 29, which is also Tim’s birthday.
“I found out quickly that something was down and it wasn’t working so I wasn’t going to spend my birthday waiting in line so I left,” Tim said.
This card-carrying-voter came back though to the Liacouras Center to turn in his mail-in ballot.
“The one thing that was a little annoying was that initially, the person had trouble finding me in the database so I was like here’s my card, here’s my ID, so he found me and that was OK,” he said.
“I registered and voted in the same day which is super, super convenient,” said Lauren Lee Dominguez.
The satellite election offices are not polling places but do allow voters to register, request a mail-in ballot, fill it out and turn it back in.
These votes won’t be tallied until Election Day inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center.
Several voters we spoke with said the process felt safer without Election Day crowds.
“I really appreciate this because I feel like they really did take the steps, I wasn’t expecting it,” said Tomas Sanchez.
The legislation allowing for no-excuse mail-in voting in Pennsylvania was signed into law in October of last year and went into effect in April, pre-dating the pandemic and putting Pennsylvania in line with most other states.
“In America, we have been voting by mail for over 100 years. It just happens to be more in use right now because of the global pandemic,” said Sec. Patrick Murphy.
Former Pennsylvania congressman and Army undersecretary Patrick Murphy is the co-chair of VoteSafe Pennsylvania, a bipartisan safe voting coalition led nationally by former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge.
“Over 99.9% of the time it is completely safe, it is completely secure and fraud is something that you see on Facebook, something you see going around on social media and part of that is triggered by our adversaries overseas,” Murphy said.
Sherriff’s deputies provide security at the satellite offices, and the Philadelphia Police Department has been guarding an election warehouse where a laptop and flash drives were stolen last week, though officials say no election information was compromised.
With the Trump campaign lawsuit seeking poll watchers inside Philly’s election offices, some are fearful that there is room for error.
“I think they are going to throw away votes, to be honest with you,” said Temple student Eric Bowman.
“I think there are going to be errors on both sides. There could be votes that could be miscounted,” Temple student Alex Clarke said.
“Everything seems to be going according to protocol so I don’t feel scared that my vote won’t be counted,” said Dominguez.
Ten additional satellite election offices will open on a rolling basis as staff are trained and become available.