Long lines, a lack of privacy, and a lack of poll workers are among the issues York County is working to tackle after the county issued an apology following the roll out of its new paper ballot machines in Tuesday's election.
York County was just one of 45 counties that used new voting systems Tuesday after the Department of State informed all 67 counties of Pennsylvania in 2018 that counties had until the end of 2019 to select new voting systems which include a paper ballot. Fifty-three other counties have taken official action towards selecting a new voting system which will roll out in 2020.
York County public information officer Mark Walters said he recognizes other counties that are preparing to debut those new machines may learn from the issues York County faced. "If that means that we have to be the guinea pig so that other counties can avoid the mistakes we made, great," said Walters.
However, Walters acknowledged, the problems need to be fixed by 2020.
York County elections & voter registration director Nikki Suchanic said there were not enough scanners at each polling place. However, she did not have an exact estimate on how many more the county needs to purchase. Walters said each voting machine costs $4900 and the county currently has 180 in its possession.
As for the issue of privacy, Suchanic suggested "one of the issues that we could work through is spacing," as some voters complained of people standing too close and poll workers being too close to the ballot scanner. Suchanic also added, when it comes to the folders that are meant to protect ballots, "voters are supposed to keep those folders until they're read to insert their ballot."
The count is also working to resolve a print issue that didn't allow some ballots to fit into the scanner.
County officials also stressed the need for more poll workers.
On Tuesday, election officials will conduct one last check of the ballots, as they do each election. Final numbers will be presented November 18th.
York County issued this statement following the election:
The York County Board of Commissioners extends its sincerest apologies to all of the voters across the
county’s 159 polling locations who experienced delays or inconveniences when voting in the Nov. 5,
2019, municipal election.
York County is the local government that plans, organizes and executes elections, and the York County
Commissioners believe the civic duty of voting to be a hallmark of the public trust instilled in county
government by the citizens of this county.
One machine per polling place was simply not enough to move smoothly. The county also misjudged the
time it would take to scan two ballot sheets per person. Ballots that were put in the machines’
emergency holding boxes will be scanned at the polling places by the election officials.
York County Commissioners, along with the York County Board of Elections, are already working to
address this issue for the next election, which is the special election on Jan. 14 for the 48th State Senate seat. Following that is the Pennsylvania Presidential Primary on April 28.
The Commissioners appreciate York County citizens for participating in the municipal election and for
exhibiting patience as the county unveiled its new voting system for the first time.