The new Luzerne County ballot boxes have arrived


The four new Luzerne County letterbox-style drop boxes have arrived, but county officials have yet to decide where they will be placed before the general election on November 2.

The County Citizen Volunteer Election Council had planned to discuss and possibly approve the locations at Wednesday’s meeting, but council members decided to interrupt and postpone the session after concerns were raised about a error code with one of two online links for those who choose to attend virtually instead of in person.

Both links had been activated before the meeting by the county IT department, but computer users could not log in if they had already opened the county page and had not refreshed the page, according to the administration. . Going forward, the board decided to continue to hold ‘hybrid’ in-person / virtual meetings, but with an advertised warning that the remote participation option would be attempted but not guaranteed.

A new meeting date will be announced as soon as possible, said election committee chairperson Denise Williams.

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County Electoral Officer Bob Morgan and Deputy Chief Electoral Officer Eryn Harvey were at the Wilkes-Barre courthouse for the meeting and provided the newspaper with updates on dropboxes and other topics they had planned to discuss.

The office is still reviewing the location options for drop boxes at Mountain Top and Back Mountain, although a recommendation for each region has not been finalized.

Some sites in these areas have been excluded because they are not equipped with security cameras or do not have enough space within camera range to accommodate a box.

If the office’s suggestion is accepted by the board of directors, the two remaining boxes would be at the Pittston Memorial Library and Hazleton Town Hall.

The county would also continue to offer a counter drop box at its Penn Place building in downtown Wilkes-Barre.

Board members wanted to switch to postal-style boxes inside out-of-county buildings because they are too heavy and cumbersome to steal.

Locations hosting boxes must agree to keep CCTV recordings for 60 days after the election and provide them to the county upon request. A sticker on the front of the ballot boxes will also warn voters that they are only allowed to cast their own ballot and that they are under video surveillance and subject to criminal prosecution if they tamper with the ballot box.

Morgan said the drop slot on the boxes is small, which allays fears that they are large enough to allow other items to be thrown into them.

“You can’t put much more than an envelope in there,” Morgan said.

A formal written policy on collecting and transporting ballots was also implemented by the electoral office.

In public comments before the end of Wednesday’s meeting, County Councilor Walter Griffith, a candidate for county comptroller, said he would have spotters at the drop-box locations and believed they had the right to ask if someone casts more than one ballot.

The only exception to the single-round mandate is for voters with disabilities who can complete and sign an official government form designating a third party to deliver a ballot on their behalf.

The ballots are expected to be sent to voters who request them starting the week of Oct. 11, Morgan said. The office is waiting for a test file from its external print vendor and needs to perform internal reviews to ensure they are accurately read by scanners / tabulators before they can be mailed, he said. declared.

In other updates from Morgan and Harvey:

• Mass Alerts – The office is working with an outside nonprofit entity on a notification program that can send mass alerts to election officials on election day – something the board needs after delays in communication of a ballot header tagging error in the May primary elections. The office has a backup plan to use a county emergency alert program on Nov. 2 if more time is needed to run the other option.

• Polling vacancies – Office workers are in the process of contacting the election judges to identify any polling employee vacancies that need to be filled for the general. Morgan said he is confident that at least some new workers who have stepped up into the primary are ready to replace again if necessary.

• Machine Tests – The office will perform the required “logic and accuracy” testing of electronic ballot markers and scanners / compilers next week. Details of the lineup will be announced soon for interested observers.

• Consultant – The Elections Group, which was retained for $ 70,000 to assist the office during the general election, provided useful feedback and assisted in the development of a detailed checklist of tasks that need to be done for them. next elections.

• Voting locations – The office confirms the availability of all polling stations for the general election and will know by Friday if any sites need to be changed.

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