Election integrity is again the topic of conversation in a Pennsylvania county that has seen its share of irregularities since the Nov. 3 election.
A May 18 primary election in Luzerne County stunned voters when machines from Dominion Voting Systems failed to display ballots for Republican voters, instead displaying a header that said “Official Democratic Ballot.” Earlier this past week, the Luzerne County’s Council voted unanimously to ask the district attorney’s office to launch an investigation into those “errors.”
One council member was not present for the vote to look into the Dominion machines used.
Given ballot issues in the county last November, and a loss of trust in the election processes in states which used electronic machines since then, Luzerne County Councilman Walter Griffith asked for the investigation, telling the Times Leader that the latest issue has left voters “disenfranchised and concerned about the integrity of the election process.”
District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce confirmed that an investigation will soon begin, noting that, “[w]ithout integrity in our elections, the public cannot trust the remainder of our democratic process.”
Dominion blamed the issue on a “coding error,” but council members are now lashing out at the company.
Luzerne County Council Chairman Tim McGinley wants to take a look at its contact with Dominion in a meeting scheduled for next month, while another council member, Matthew Vough, has already called for the county to terminate the relationship.
The Times Leaders reported other members of the council agreed with Vough. Councilwoman Sheila Saidman stated that Dominion had “done a very poor job,” and demanded that election officials “get to the bottom of what happened” with the May 18 primary.
“We can’t afford another election to cause this confusion,” she said. “I think it was a disastrous election.”
Council member Harry Haas added, “This has got to stop. We are undermining faith in the system.”
“For voters to have trust, we need to find out exactly what happened,” stated Councilmember LeeAnn McDermott.
“There was considerable confusion. They refer to it as miscoding. It’s hard to imagine how something like that slips by people. It was explained well the person that came to the polling place,” said Dudley Snyder.
“If a coding error can get the name wrong name at the top, how do you know there aren’t coding errors that can screw up the cast, the counting of the ballots themselves?”
“It’s going to take a long time; I think before anybody gets any degree of comfort with it anymore,” added Snyder.
Justin Behrens, who chairs the county’s Republican Party, told WNEP he experienced the machine issue when he attempted to cast a ballot.
“I went in to vote myself, and it happened to me also, so we have a great concern as a Republican Party to instill that the integrity of the election process,” said Behrens, who called for the company’s machines to be impounded and for paper ballots to be used.
“We’re going to make sure that all the equipment that’s used is going to be secured and locked safe for us to do an investigation or do or to do whatever we want to do to check it out as a party,” Behrens also said.
County officials have not said when the investigation will begin or end, but the sooner that investigation yields results, the better.
More than six months after the November election, demands to restore the integrity of the country’s elections are louder than ever, and the midterm elections are just 18 months away for many people far from Pennsylvania who have not had their concerns addressed.