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A mail-in ballot option for all voters is just one of the voting changes for Pennsylvania in the 2020 presidential election year. Wochit

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With 34 days until the Nov. 3 election, Pennsylvania Department of State officials addressed a variety of issues, including disinformation given during the presidential debate and more details about a "bad error" that ballots were tossed in Luzerne County.

Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar held the virtual news conference on Wednesday morning to address the upcoming election.

A few rules have changed in the last few weeks because of court rulings. For example, a ballot sent through the mail will be counted as long as it is postmarked before 8 p.m. on Nov. 3 and arrives at the county election office by Friday.

Also, "naked ballots" — ones that are not enclosed in the secrecy envelope — will not count.

Two important deadlines are approaching:

  • Oct. 19: Last day to register to vote
  • Oct. 27: Last day to apply for a mail-in or civilian absentee ballot

To register to vote or to request a mail-in or absentee ballot, visit www.votespa.com or contact the county elections office.

Boockvar provided the latest numbers on the upcoming election:

  • More than 8.8 million voters are registered to cast a ballot.
  • More than 4 million are registered Democratic.
  • More than 3 million are registered Republican.
  • More than 863,000 are no affiliation, and 397,000 are for other registrations.
  • More than 2.3 million absentee and mail-in ballot applications have been approved.
  • Nearly 1.9 million ballots have been or are in the process of being mailed. 
  • More than 2 million postcards have been sent Pennsylvanians who are eligible to vote but have not registered.

More: Federal authorities investigating discarded ballots; temporary worker tossed them

More: Biden said he will win Scranton. Trump said he will only lose if it's rigged. Who's right?

More: Former Republican Pa. Gov. Tom Ridge: Election Day could be election month without reform

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Here's what you need to know:

'Inaccurate' allegation made during presidential debate

Philadelphia opened seven satellite county election offices this week, and President Donald Trump alleged during the presidential debate Tuesday night that poll workers were kept out of these offices.

"This is completely inaccurate," Boockvar said.

Poll watchers do not exist right now, she said. They are usually appointed a few days before the election. They have certain specified rights in the polling places and with the count. They don't have a right to be in election offices. 

"As Al Schmidt, the city commissioner in Philadelphia said very well, poll watchers have no rights to come into our house and sit with us at our kitchen table when we vote nor do they have the ability to go into the county election offices to watch people vote," she said. "That you can do on your privacy at that time."

'Bad error' made in ballots being tossed in Luzerne County

Pennsylvania Department of State officials say it was not internal fraud, but a "bad error" that resulted in a number of ballots being tossed in Luzerne County.

Federal authorities continue to investigate what happened. Luzerne County officials explained last week that a temporary worker who was sorting the mail incorrectly discarded them in the trash. The contractor was terminated.

Jonathan Marks, deputy secretary for elections and commissions, explained that with military and overseas votes that are cast, it's not always clear that the mail has voting materials inside. Sometimes they put the envelope indicating that a ballot is enclosed inside another package. The state has protocols for handling such cases.

"From the initial reports we've been given, this was a bad error," she said. "This was not intentional fraud."

State officials said steps were taken immediately to address the problem, and more training will be given.

"It was bad that it happened, but they immediately dealt with it, and have moved forward in all the right ways," she said.

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