Friday, November 16, 2012

Stoffa: We Need Early Voting

Northampton County has 149 precincts. All but two of them - one in Forks and the other in Palmer Township - worked smoothly on election day. But two was enough for a turkey from The Express Times:
"Northampton County election officials have some homework to do. They have four years to get it done, but it’s best to start now. Surges in population in Forks and Palmer townships have overburdened polling places in the fastest growing areas, which became painfully obvious in Tuesday’s balloting. Some people reported waiting in line to vote for up to three hours. Many made several trips. At the same time, some wards in cities and boroughs have no lines. It’s time to redraw the map, starting with those precincts that can’t handle the crush of a presidential vote. Split ’em up."
Stoffa disputed this criticism at November 15's County Council meeting. "I think we've been judged pretty harshly," he said. He pointed out that the number of registered voters at both polling places is about the same number it was four years ago. So the suggestion that long lines were the result of a growing population, is simply wrong.

In addition, Stoffa pointed out that "judges of election," who run each precinct, are independently elected, and appoint their own helpers. "We have no control over that," said the Exec.

But he'll agree that there certainly is a problem, which he outlined in his own laconic style.
"I think voting in Pennsylvania stinks. We have no early voting. I don't know why we put up with that. Imagine if the election would have been held one week before. It would have been chaos."
Council members Ken Kraft and Bob Werner both volunteered to serve on a committee to lobby Harrisburg on this issue.

20 comments:

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have deleted two anonymous comments from someone who thinks he is free to post anonymous personal attacks. He is not.

Anonymous said...

Stoffa: This is not my fault!

Ken Kraft said...

Election Issues Prior to Election Day

SURE System slow
SURE help desk was not authorized to work additional hours to assist Election Offices in the state with issues
No power in the Election Office 3 days. Election Office closed for 2 days while the county was closed 4 days
Court Order extending Absentee Ballots more time that staff had to stop other duties and process Absentee Ballots
Votes Pa website not working and generated more calls prior to election as well as on Election Day
SURE email for military /overseas ballots not functioning properly. Had to internally link information for each voter in order for him/her to download the ballot.


Election Day Issues

Voters stated that they registered at PennDot, but after searching the system various ways, there is no registration received electronically
Voters that stated that they were registered by registration drive, but applications were not received in the office.
Voters stated that they registered on a website, but there was nothing electronically transmitted.
Emergency Responders that were from various states and other counties in Pennsylvania, held up the lines
Calls coming in from the judges of election to research people that were not in the appropriate districts and or not registered
Several issues with poll Watchers that held up the Judges of Election while they were trying to keep a flow in the line at the polls.

Ken Kraft said...

Just a little FYI for the uninformed, I think the elections commission did a fantastic job with everything that happened, and lets not forget a presidential is the largest turn out.

I said it last night and I will say it again, Great Job Elections Office and staff

Anonymous said...

Elections run very smoothly in NorCo. It's one of the few things that actually work. If it ain't broke, fix something else that is.

Tom Harp, County Administrator said...

Thank you for your comments, Ken. I too would like to defend our Elections Office staff who did a superb job under unprecedented circumstances. Sandy shut the courthouse down for four days. We were able to arrange with FEMA to install a 12.5 kw generator at the elections office with the help of our EMS division to enable Dee Rumsey and her staff to return to work on Thursday and Friday. They worked long hours through the weekend and up until election day.

At the November 1 council meeting we reported that 95 out of 149 polling districts in the county were still without power. Working feverishly with our EMS office, the Dept. of State, PEMA and the utility companies that number was reduced to around 40 by Friday night, 20 on Saturday and down to just 4 on Sunday. By Monday we were down to 2 and we worked with PEMA to have a large generator installed to the last polling site without power, Williams Township Eastern District. By Tuesday morning ALL polling sites had power and were open. We did not have to relocate any of them. This was a major accomplishment to begin with.

Election Day was incredibly busy for everyone.I personally visited several polling places inclusing St. Anthony's in Easton around 8:30 AM when I discovered that they had no heat. Their boiler had broken down the day before. We had not been notified of this situation but scrambled and set up 5 electric space heaters to make the day tolerable for the poll workers there.

There were many fires that had to be put out during the day. Two polling places were about to run out of provisional ballots and I ran them out to Freemansburg and S. Bethlehem. The turnout was over 62% and there were over 900 provisional ballots. No one anticipated that. Down in Williams Township Eastern District the poll workers were very pleased with the response of the county and our EMS division in arranging for their generator.

Ken has accurately listed other problems beyond our control. But in the end we were able to conduct the election very professionally. I am proud of our elections staff for their tireless efforts leading up to, during, and now after the election as they certify the vote. There were some polling places that operated less than efficiently creating long lines. That was truly unfortunate and needs to be corrected. However, county election officials did not deserve a "turkey" from the Express Times. It was a cheap shot given the extreme challenges of this election.

Anonymous said...

We have no early voting. We have no gay marriage. We have no medical marijuana. We have no beer in grocery stores. We're quite the progressive blue state, aren't we?

Our state government is a disgrace.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Tom and Ken, Thank you both for your informative comments.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

If you want to accuse public officials of hiding, then you're goibg to have to crawl out from underneath the rock under which you are hiding yourself and tell us who you are.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bernie. These cuckoo birds who rant on local government officials who are on the front lines working hard trying to get these done are unhappy, unproductive trolls.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bernie O'Hare said...

Identify yourself, and I'll let your comment stand. If you want to make a difference, take responsibility for what you write. Until then, you're just a coward unworthy of any credibility.

Anonymous said...

In Lehigh County roughly 75% of the registered voters showed in the precinct I worked at ... The biggest line at the beginning of the day was cleared up in minutes ... Basically it was steady all day

Anonymous said...

Why didn't Stoffa accept responsibility for the problems like a man? Why shift the blame?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Stoffa shifted nothing. He explained. You, in your pathetic anonymous hatred, are simply unable to reason.

Anonymous said...

Somehow he always explains away any responsibility for problems and explain how he has solutions for others problems, now that is leadership.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Like I said, you are a pathetic anonymous hater. What a little person you must be that you are so afraid of Stoffa that you won't identify yourself.

Anonymous said...

As you well know, it is not heatlhy to be a county employee and identify yourself undr the Stoffa rule.

Bernie O'Hare said...

That's a krock. I can tick off several county employees who were highly critical on the record and at Council meetings. No disciplinary action was taken, and those workers had courage. But you're not a county employee. You're an anonymous little troll from Allentown, too cowardly to sign your name.