Officials, poll workers, and voters in two Pennsylvania counties, Luzerne County and Fayette County, have pointed out irregularities in recent local elections, renewing concerns about the integrity of elections nationwide.
On May 18 in Luzerne County, voters noticed that all ballots were being displayed as a Democrat ballot on-screen, regardless of the chosen party. Carl Romanelli, a judge with Luzerne County Board of Elections, told Eyewitness News, “Because it’s a primary, Democrats and Republicans or independent non-partisans, have a different ballot.” While the headers of the ballot marking devices incorrectly displayed all ballots as Democrat, he said that “when the ballot is printed, it shows that it is in fact the proper ballot.”
“Unfortunately, this morning, the machines were all shut down and people were losing their patience and leaving,” a voter from Exeter said to PA Homepage. “It’s disheartening. When you get a person who gets elected in, did they truly get elected in? That’s the question, and no one can truly answer that,” another voter stated.
In a press release, Luzerne County Election Director Bob Morgan confirmed that the error had occurred countywide and that it “appears on the screen only.” Officials provided Republican voters with the option to vote with a provisional ballot if they preferred not to use the machines.
Morgan stated that the error occurred “during the vendor programming of the device,” which was conducted by Dominion Voting Systems. He said that there were no problems with mail-in ballots that were produced from the same file used in the machines. “We’re still working with Dominion to get an explanation as to how this coding error occurred. They were as surprised about it as we were,” Morgan said.
Luzerne County Councilman Walter Griffith criticized the Bureau of Elections for not identifying the issue early on, Fox56 reported. “The problem I have with that is it disenfranchises Republican voters throughout the entire County… The County Bureau of Elections is supposed to proofread those machines before they are put in service,” he said.
While the bureau insisted that the error would not affect vote counts, Luzerne County Republican Committee Chair Justin Behrens called for more transparency in elections and stated that the public must know that “their vote is counted and that it is 100 percent recorded.” He expressed concerns about “the integrity of the election.”
“If a coding error can get the name wrong 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,” a voter said to WNEP.
Matthew Vough, a Democrat running for a county council term, told The Epoch Times that the error did not only affect Republicans, and that some Democrats also received Republican ballots. He suggested that Luzerne County end its contract with Dominion at the next council meeting.
According to the Washington Examiner, Luzerne’s 11-member council voted on Tuesday for the district attorney’s office to look into the voting machine error. In December last year, an audit conducted by Allied Security Operations Group (ASOG) found flaws in Dominion machines in Antrim County, Michigan.
In Fayette County, barcodes necessary for electronic scanning were missing from several ballots. The majority of affected voters were Republicans. In an interview with WPXI, Chris Varney, Fayette County Judge of Elections, stated that poll workers noticed the issue with scanning programs soon after the precincts were opened.
“The scanning machine was not scanning. At first, we thought it was all ballots, but then realized it was only Republican ballots,” he said. The Fayette County Republican Party then filed an emergency petition for a judge to halt ballot scanning and have the Judge of Elections and poll workers hand-count the ballots in each individual precinct at the end of the day instead. According to CBS Pittsburgh, the courts granted the emergency petition.
Voter Lorie Lamb told CBS that her ballot was rejected at the Joseph A. Hardy Connellsville Airport. “I think [it’s] suspicious after everything that happened with the presidential election. I’m a Republican. I went to scan a ballot and it spit it out. I tried three or four times and it kept spitting it out,” she said. Bill Kozlovich, Chairman of the Fayette County Republican Party, believes that the barcode issue was an “honest mistake” by the printing company.
Republican Representatives Matthew Dowling and Ryan Warner, along with Senator Pat Stefano, have issued a Right To Know (RTK) request for ballot records, voting machine testing, financial records, contracts related to ballot printing, and reports of ballot malfunctions. “We do want to provide transparency and let our constituents know how this blunder happened,” Dowling said to The Epoch Times.
Meanwhile, Fayette County District Attorney Richard Bower filed a search warrant and confirmed that a criminal investigation related to the scanning of ballots has been launched. The District Attorney said that he and a team of investigators have discussed the matter with the elections division.
“It was my decision that I would rather have a search warrant than just going and asking for the information, because, quite frankly, they could say we have to file a RTK, we’re not going to file a RTK when we’re doing a criminal investigation,” Bower said to WTAE.
With reporting by Prakash Gogoi.