STROUDSBURG, Pa. — At 7 a.m. Tuesday, Election workers started to open mail-in and absentee ballots in Monroe County.
Elections officials say they were able to start earlier this year thanks to a state grant that says if they accept the money, they have to begin processing the ballots when the polls open on Election Day.
Workers at the Monroe County Administrative Building in Stroudsburg have been busy opening ballots and getting them ready to be counted.
"We sent out over 18,000. We've received back about 15,000. They're still coming in. We still have mail, and we still have dropboxes out at all our library locations throughout the county," said Monroe County Commissioner John Christy.
Christy says the county received state grant money to help with the election. One of the stipulations for receiving the money is to begin counting mail-in ballots by 7 a.m. on Election Day and continue uninterrupted until all the votes are counted.
In past years, mail-in ballots couldn't be opened until polls closed.
"Being able to start at 7 a.m. gives us a leg up. What will happen is that people will have a much better idea of the outcome of the election tonight as opposed to years past when you'd have the day-of-election results, and then we would start opening the mail-ins afterward."
The county purchased another high-speed scanner to help speed up the process.
Christy says if ballots continue to look accurate, he's confident nearly all the ballots will be counted by Tuesday night.
"Most of the ballots that have come back are good ballots. We don't have any problems with them. A large, a vast majority are good ballots, and people are getting used to the system."
If you haven't voted or dropped off your mail-in ballot at your county's election office, you have until 8 p.m.
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