Voting done, election work rolls on
BY DAVID SINGLETON
STAFF WRITER The Times Tribune
The voting may be over in Lackawanna County, but the primary election is far from finished.
Harried workers in the Voter Registration Office spent Wednesday trying to wrap up loose ends from Tuesday’s balloting even as they prepared for their next big undertaking — the official count that starts Friday.
The county’s voting machine vendor, Advanced Voting Solutions, reviewed Election Day calls the office received from poll workers about the devices, hoping to sort out why each problem occurred. The primary was just the third election in which the electronic touch-screen machines have been used.
The data-retrieval glitch that required officials to manually record vote totals from nearly a quarter of the county’s 163 districts after November’s election surfaced again Tuesday, although it apparently was less severe.
Last fall, the master USB memory devices submitted with the open returns from 38 voting districts came back “unreadable.” By Wednesday afternoon, officials had checked the USBs from Scranton’s 48 districts; only two contained no data, according to Cathy Hardaway, county director of voter education.
“We do not have a good summary yet of what happened,” Ms. Hardaway said.
Even in districts where the USB information was complete, the absentees had to be manually recorded. The absentee votes were counted by poll workers in each district Tuesday night, but state law prohibits adding absentees to the machine total at the polling place.
Ms. Hardaway anticipates the office will use three teams to tally votes during the official count. One will count the Democratic vote; one will count the Republican vote, and the third will count write-in votes.
Because of the large number of write-ins — more than 8,000 were cast in the Republican race for commissioner alone — the official count is expected to take at least three days, said Marion Medalis, director of elections. The office has already set aside Saturday and Monday to continue the count.
The write-in count could help flesh out the general election ballot, particularly in municipalities where there were no candidates for certain offices listed on the primary ballot.
A person who received 10 write-in votes for a borough or township office Tuesday would be eligible to appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.
“It’s possible — let’s put it that way,” Ms. Medalis said.