STROUDSBURG, Pa. — Monroe County finished counting more than 30,000 mail-in and absentee ballots Thursday afternoon.
Election officials finished counting those ballots around 1:30 p.m. A little more than 32,000 were received.
While the heavy lifting is done, more than 1,000 provisional and military ballots still remain to be counted.
More than two dozen staff members worked for days to get more than 32,000 ballots counted.
"I cannot say enough how proud I am of all the employees here in Monroe County. Our elections office put in 95-hour workweeks for the past couple of weeks. We have people from the Conservation District, Assessment, from Planning all pitching in here. Every one of them is a valued and excellent employee," said Monroe County Commissioner John Christy.
Election officials and county staff members started counting mail-in and absentee ballots Wednesday. A little more than 18,000 were tabulated, and the remaining ballots were finished on Thursday.
Aside from staff members counting ballots, two Republican and two Democrat observers were also on hand.
Anne Tiracchia was one of them.
"I walk up and down and watch what they are doing. I make sure they take the ballot out of every envelope and throw the empty envelope in the wastebasket and flatten the ballots."
Because of COVID-19, staff members needed to be split up into four different rooms. To ensure extra security, webcams have been set up.
"Everyone is watching. We have cameras in each room," Commissioner Christy said. "It's broadcast to a couple locations, a location down In the lunchroom so someone can see what's going on down there, also."
Staff members will have to come back on Friday to count a few hundred provisional ballots.
According to election officials, there are about 1,600 provisional ballots that will be counted first thing in the morning.
"This worked best for us. I know everyone is anxious for the returns, but I mean, we are going to get them out as soon as we can," said Monroe County Director of Elections Sarah May-Silfee.
"We have over 600 provisional ballots to deal with tomorrow. We won't have as many people here, but we will still have 600, over 600 provisional ballots to go through," said Christy.
Totals from the mail-in and absentee ballot count will be posted Thursday evening to the Monroe County website.