Vote by mail mailbox mail-in ballot graphic generic

READING, Pa. – Berks County Commissioner Kevin S. Barnhardt assured county residents making use of a mail-in ballot for the Nov. 2 general election that their ballot will be returned to the county.

Concerns were raised that the mail-in ballots exceed the weight of a first-class stamp and thus require extra postage, but Barnhardt said the county has assurances that ballots will be received by the county, even if they do not have the additional postage.

"We believe strongly in our discussions with the U.S. postmaster that all of the ballots coming to the county will be received [regardless of postage]," Barnhardt said. "This was an oversight; it's no one's fault. We have assurances that all envelopes will be returned to the county before Nov. 2."

But Barnhardt said voters always have the option of placing additional postage on their envelope or taking the ballot to one of the two drop boxes, either inside the Berks County Services Center in downtown Reading or at the Agricultural Center in Bern Township.

Both drop box locations will be ready to start receiving ballots on Monday.

Barnhardt said at the next elections board meeting, he plans to advocate that, beginning in 2022, the county provide postage-paid envelopes for all mail-in ballots.

Related to the election, Barnhardt also announced that the elections office is in critical need of poll workers to man the polling locations in the county's 202 precincts.

Barnhardt said there is an especially critical need in the areas of Muhlenberg Township, Reading, and in the boroughs of Topton and Kutztown. Anyone seeking to become a poll worker can contact Rob Quinter at 610-478-6490, extension 5581, or email pollworkers@countyofberks.com.

The county pays its poll workers $180 for the day and provides training.

Also at the commissioner's weekly meeting, the commissioners agreed to terminate its license of agreement between North Reading Investors LP, New York, with the county and the Berks Community Health Center for space located at the North Reading Plaza, next to the Walmart in Muhlenberg Township.

The site had been used for a COVID-19 community vaccination clinic through the end of July, but the commissioners then immediately approved authorization for the execution of a new license agreement for the same space, but this time with the county and Penn State Health.

That agreement will terminate Oct. 31, 2022.

Although Barnhardt said the new agreement will allow the site to continue to be used for vaccinations, no further details were available.

Barnhardt said information will soon be made available to the public regarding the transitioning of the partnership between the county and Berks Community Health Center to one between the county and St. Joseph Medical Center.

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