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We prefer that Americans go to the polls

Pennsylvania voters will head to the polls Tuesday for the primary election.

But there are problems that could complicate the process this year as we head into the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 3.

Two decades ago, Florida was using punch cards for voting that often resulted in dimples, or “hanging chads.”

The result of Florida’s polling was unclear for a month after the election. The matter of who would receive Florida’s 25 electoral votes ultimately was decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in favor or Republican candidate George W. Bush over Democratic candidate Al Gore.

Some 20 years later, America is in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and a number of states, including Pennsylvania, are moving forward with the option of mail-in ballots.

There are good reasons for this, particularly the protocols for cleaning and social distancing that have been prescribed as a way to reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Will a second wave come this fall? We hope not.

It’s probably a good thing that this is being tested during the primary so any issues may be resolved before the Nov. 3 general election.

We have already seen a few hiccups.

For one, a company contracted by Lycoming County to provide mail-in ballots sent out duplicate ballots to a number of people.

Since then, we’ve heard from other people about difficulty getting their ballots.

In Montgomery County, nearly 2,000 people received incorrect ballots — registered Democrats found Republican ballots in their mailbox, and registered Republicans found Democratic ballots.

We wonder what other glitches may have occurred across the state, not to mention the swift delivery of election-related mail — your ballots.

Voters would be wise to remember that local mail typically goes to Harrisburg for processing due to USPS changes made about seven years ago.

At the time, it was said that a piece of mail could take an average of four days to arrive at another address in the same region.

That said, if a voter posted a mail-in ballot this past Saturday, it may arrive on time tomorrow, primary election day.

But it’s not guaranteed.

We also wonder about the massive effort that it will take for voter services offices here and across the state to open and count mail-in ballots on Tuesday.

Can these offices realistically start and complete the count of mail-in ballots on Tuesday?

In the end, we will always prefer a physical presence at the precincts on election day.

The practice of going to the polls and casting ballots is an American exercise not to be taken lightly.

Assuring that every vote counts may best be accomplished by personally casting a ballot at the polls instead of relying on the Postal Service or any other form of messenger.

Of course, absentee ballots have their place, especially for those overseas and for those serving in our military away from home.

We will watch what may be a remarkable operation this Tuesday … or a superhuman feat attempted by mortal men and women.

Opening and scanning mail-in ballots may begin at 7 a.m. Tuessday.

That gives election officials 17 hours to get ‘er done.

On that note, we can only wish them the best of luck.

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