EMMAUS, Pa. - So many voters turned in their mail-in ballots at Emmaus Town Hall's drop-off box on Monday that the Lehigh County sheriff's office had to come empty it twice.
Borough Manager Shane Pepe gave the report during Monday night's borough council meeting.
Pepe said a modest-sized lined formed first thing Monday, when the municipal building opened at 8 a.m. to receive drop-off ballots. The drop box is a brown-painted, scaled-down mailbox chained to the bottom of borough hall's staircase on the first floor. It's being monitored by a surveillance camera, and is one of five drop-off boxes in Lehigh County.
Pepe said as the day progressed Monday, an ever-increasing number of voters appeared and a line of up to 50 people formed out front and down the side street of the building. The steady line lasted until closing at 3 p.m.
The manager estimated 1,100 ballots were dropped off on the first day the box was open to the public. It's now open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Pepe said he and his town hall staff, as well as borough council members, received numerous calls Monday from voters with questions about how to correctly fill out their mail-in ballot.
He advised voters not to submit their ballot if they have not filled it out correctly. However, he said, as per the county, if someone incorrectly signs the proxy designation line on the back right side of the mailing envelope, and they are an eligible signer for themselves, they should just strike the mistaken proxy signature with a solid black line. They should sign the ballot on the back of the envelope on the bottom left on the line designated for self-signatures.
Pepe also mentioned a handful of voters became disrespectful to town staff while waiting and demanding answers to their questions. He advised if the verbal abuse continues, such persons will be asked to leave the premises as Emmaus is not part of the county elections board and only supplies a well-recognized location for a ballots drop.
"The turnout is overwhelming and tempers were flaring, but the screaming has got to stop," Pepe commented.
He further remarked the high number of residents wanting to drop off ballots shows the public doesn't trust the post office's ability to do so.
On a different note, Pepe pointed out there were a number of first-time voters dropping off their ballots, and to commemorate the special occasion, a number of selfies were taken by the new voters who were genuinely excited about their initial voting experience.
In other business, council marketing committee Chair Teri Sorg-McManamon reminded everyone that this Friday, Oct. 23, is the deadline for groups and organizations to submit an application for a float or display space in the borough's first ever "Reverse Halloween Parade" to be held Oct. 31 in the Emmaus Community Park.
Details about this alternative event to a traditional Halloween parade are noted on the borough's website.