District attorney in Pennsylvania warns May primary voters to submit only their ballots

Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin says convicted, multi-ballot votes could face max $2,500 fine and/or up to two years in prison
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Ballot drop box, Pennsylvania
Ballot drop box, Pennsylvania
Mark Makela/Getty Images

Ahead of Pennsylvania's primary election in May, Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin warned voters that submitting a ballot other than their own could result in prosecution.

The Republican district attorney's office said in a news release that according to state law, a voter may only submit their own ballot via the mail or a drop box, according to local TV station 69 News.

In a letter to the Lehigh County Election Board on Tuesday, Martin suggested that more prominent signs be placed on and near drop boxes explaining that if voters submit ballots other than their own, then they could face up to a $2,500 fine and/or up to two years in prison upon conviction.

He also said that county detectives will monitor "from time to time" surveillance video of drop box locations during the primary election so that "any persons identified as depositing more that one ballot envelope may be prosecuted and face the penalties set forth in the Election Code."

Martin's announcement followed his April 4 report that found "at least 288 people deposited more than one ballot at five area drop-boxes from Oct. 18 and Election Day, Nov. 2, 2021," the news station also reported. 

The district attorney decided to not prosecute the few people out of the 288 who were identifiable on video surveillance at the four drop box locations inside municipal buildings and the Lehigh County Government Center.

Most of the people could not be identified because of the COVID mask mandate at the time and the quality of the footage.

While the municipal building locations were open during "regular" business hours, the government center was open 24/7, which Martin suggested should be changed to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

In the April report, he suggested ballots be delivered in person to an election official to avoid violations, according to WLVR.

Martin's news release said he is hopeful that the penalty possibilities will be a deterrent to violating the state law and that voters will abide by "both the letter and the spirit of the law."