Friday, April 19, 2019

NorCo Council Puts Brakes on New Voting System

Following a lengthy meeting that included a parade of 10 speakers opposed to the Express Vote XL voting machine system, Northampton County Council voted 5-4 last night to put the brakes on the $2.9 million purchase. Council member John Cusick, who said he actually supports XL, suggested waiting until after the May election to see how the system performs in Delaware. Joining him in a motion to delay the purchase were Council members Bob Werner, Peg Ferraro, Matt Dietz and Tara Zrinski. Opposing a delay were Council President Ron Heckman and members Bill McGee, Lori Vargo Heffner and Kevin Lott.

Cusick argued that a brief delay would give him "peace of mind" in this choice.

Executive Lamont McClure said that he would honor Council's wishes and wait, though he could make the purchase now. Earlier that night, Council voted unanimously to set aside the money for this system, which was endorsed by the Elections Commission in March.  There is some authority that it is the Elections Commission, and not County Council, who decides on voting systems. That issue is currently being litigated in Allegheny County, which like Northampton is a home rule county.

This delay means that the new system, if purchased, will cost an additional $20,000. Administrator Charles Dertinger added, however, that it will still be in place in time for November's election.

Pennsylvania's Department of State has directed all 67 counties to have new systems in place, with a paper trail, in time for next year's Presidential race.

The ten speakers who oppose the XL included two Elections Commission members, Councilman Bob Werner's wife, a self-proclaimed "data geek" and Janice Hobbs Pellechio, an "election integrity" activist from Doylestown. They want to return to paper ballots, which are later scanned  and have in some states presented questions of voter intent.

Pellechio lectured Council that they were quick "to pick something that most of you do not really understand." She said they need "to step back and do your homework."

Bob Werner accused the McClure administration of having already decided on XL in August.

This was disputed by Administration employee Amy Cozze, who spent "five months of my life" weighing the pros and cons of different systems. She insisted that neither Dertinger nor anyone else had directed her to favor any one system. 

The XL system has been under consideration since August. Council members John Cusick, Ron Heckman and Bill McGee all said they had already spent a great deal of time looking at all the systems.

Despite a Cozze presentation showing that the legacy costs of XL are cheaper over 10 years than a paper ballot, Deb Hunter insisted it was more expensive. She dismissed concerns about a state law requiring that over 100% of the ballots be pre-printed for polling places that use paper ballots,though she failed to explain how state law could be ignored. Those bags of paper would weigh over 80 pounds in some precincts.

In response to concerns about judges of elections being tasked with transporting this load back to Easton, Hunter said the same pubic works employees who transport the machines to the polling place can simply pick up the bags when they return after the polls close.

Though this was not addressed, Hunter's suggestion would mean that you'd never see elections results on election night. Public works employees would need several hours to pick up these bags and would have to be paid overtime. To preserve the chain of custody, judges of elections would have to remain at the polling place, alone, until the bags are picked up. It is also unclear whether judges of elections can surrender results to anyone other than the Register of Elections

Ironically, many of the speakers accused County Council of not only being in a rush, but acting undemocratically. Tara Stevenson called the decision "boneheaded," and said they were all being "hustled."  They were presented with a state map showing the number of counties that had decided to use paper ballots. Dertinger and Cozze responded this map, which was waved by several speakers, was pure misinformation. They had spoken to each of the counties.

Though each of the speakers who opposed XL claimed to be interested in democracy, they were asking Council to ignore the wishes of a clear majority of election judges who preferred XL over three other systems. "Elections judges do not understand the system," condescended Elections Commissioner Kathy Fox, who was on the losing side of the 3-2 March recommendation in support of XL.

Tara Zrinski, rumored to be running against State Rep. Marcia Hahn next year, presented the spectre of hacked machines. This was quickly rebutted by both Dertinger and Cozze. Cozze pointed out that each machine is stand alone, and the only way it could be hacked is by giving someone access to each of them in 125 precincts  She pointed out that they are secured in a camera-monitored warehouse. Dertinger added that no other computers are allowed inside that building. Cozze said the more troubling concern is when arguments arise over a marked ballot where the voter's intent is unclear.

Zrinski also attacked XL vendors because they were absent last night. They had already made three presentations, including a presentation on Wednesday to which  Zrinski arrived about an hour late. She stressed the importance of this decision, but was absent for most of the discussion on Wednesday.

Hunter and Werner complained that the Elections Commission should have considered a third paper system, the one chosen by Lehigh County. As Dertinger explained several times, the systems considered were the top two preferences of elections judges.

Last time I checked, Lehigh County does not select voting systems in Northampton County. 

One of the bugaboos raised about the XL system is a barcode that appears on each ballot. This makes them insecure, according to Deb Hunter husband Gene. This is a nonsense argument. Barcodes are common in hospitals, pharmacies, banks and even at frickin' PennDOT

Sitting in the back of the room,but saying nothing, was puppetmaster Matt Munsey. He chairs NorCo Dems and has apparently decided that he, and not the elected members of NorCo Council, calls the shots.

He'll be disabused of that notion in May,when the XL is used in Delaware with no issues.


Anonymous said...

Why do you think it was a 5-4 vote to wait. Why not everyone vote to wait?

Bernie O'Hare said...

Because four people are satisfied that Express Vote XL is the best choice.

Peter J.Cochran said...

Law of Demishing Return. The machines sit idle all but two days a year in storage with cost of the storage to tax payers. I didn’t say “voters”. Thank you for this hold off .i don’t care if results are not tabulated on the same night or in 4 days .

Anonymous said...

This is the dumbest time in NorCo government history. While the comedic value is not in question, laughing at them causes a similar discomfort to that of finding things the mentally disabled do, funny. I doubt there's an imbecile in county government, right now, who can make triple figures on an IQ test.

Anonymous said...

Gee Bernie, you're "reporting" used to be worth something. Instead of playing video games on your phone like you were doing through most of the meeting, maybe you should pay attention. You attributed several things said last night to the wrong people and included little legitimate info that was brought forward. People have said you're a shill for McClueless and the Dert bag...they're right. Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Anonymous said...

So Zirinski s argument was based on machines that no one is considering? Typical

Anonymous said...

Muncy is an idiot who should have resigned when Trump won Northampton County. He thinks he has power but is totally powerless, most of the elected Democratic officials don't take him seriously. And those who do listen to him learn their lesson. He convinced 3 Dem school board candidates not to cross-file in Bethlehem so there would be a contested election in November. The lone Republican candidate cross-filed, so he has pretty much guaranteed a tea party school board member. SMH at the idiocracy.

Anonymous said...

Munch needs to be investigated, his Easton Dems put on that show last night, his wife has a patronage job with Cartwright and that alone should give these progressives pause

Anonymous said...

Hell, what's an extra 20 grand to the naysayers? I'm sure they'll chip in the 5K each to show their commitment to their cause when it's time to actually do their job.

😁 said...

Munsey is a tool!. His wife is his meal ticket. Has he ever had a real job? Most people have grown tired of him and his lover Larry Lauritzen. Those two have literally tainted & destroyed the committee

Anonymous said...

This council spends taxpayer money to rebuild churches for connected friends whose communities are too stupid and/or too stingy to fix their own failing churches. There's no waste that's too ridiculous for this council.

Anonymous said...

If these council people are so craven, dumb and self serving, what does that say about the people who the ran against and beat?

Anonymous said...

Why is someone from Doylestown lecturing Northampton County? People like Pelicoocoo are crazy.

Anonymous said...

What the H--- does a Cozze a clerical have her nose and say in it????? Council needs to check what is going on behind the scenes. Unless they are part of it?

Anonymous said...

And in national news democrat's in top positions soon to be charged with HIGH TREASON against US citizens! This too will become the question of being conversation context.
Nothing like a nothing burger served up at the investigation cost.

Anonymous said...

Cozze spent "five months of her life" - really? She is an employee and she did the job she was assigned to do, got paid, went home after work, ran Cozze Cakes (she is a great baker), etc.

Why the need for the dramatics when just stating the facts covers it?

I don't know what office Zrinski is going to pursue, but it's very clear the County is in her mind a stepping stone. Only problem is she's legit batshit crazy.

Anonymous said...

If you want to find Cozze look for Dertinger. I watched the damn thing an it was bizarre. I give credit to the moderator who appeared to be managing monkeys. At times you could hear and see McClure and Dertinger losing their cool. Dertinger came off as the arrogant snob he has always been. You remember Bernie, you wrote about him.

Anonymous said...

McClure governs like a lawyer. He wants to win at all costs. Negotiation is not in his vocabulary. He browbeats and threatens and mocks any who disagree with him. He is already alienating his allies on council. Just look at Zirinski and Werner.

Anonymous said...

Isn't there anyone out there who can make Northampton County great again? Or at least bring us up to par with Lehigh County? Heck, I'd even settle for Carbon or Monroe County.

Anonymous said...

To April 19th at 3:37
You have McClure pegged right. You obviously had some dealings with him. Don't worry, he will get his come up pence very soon.

moderate Republican said...

A bar code on each ballot?
That's a terrible idea!

Anonymous said...

Bernie O'Hare, IMO you are as totally hare-brained as any official who wants to waste tax dollars on this unproven giant pile of garbage voting machine. Did ES&S take YOU out for a little wine and dine too?

Why does Northampton always have to be the guinea pig? Do you remember the WINvote fiasco? ExpressVote XL could be well on its way to being WINvote II. This piece of junk is almost totally unproven in real elections. Like WINvote, it may fail or get decertified. There are already proposed laws in the pipeline that would make it obsolete.

Anyone with half a brain would choose a proven, cost-effective hand-marked paper ballot system that meets the minimum federal and state requirements. One that has a track record in real elections.

Taxpayers, watch your wallets! When ExpressVote XL goes down like WINvote, this time I don't think the state should bail out the Northampton County officials who get suckered into buying this expensive crap.

Anonymous said...

Cusick likes the machines but wants to wait a month and then vote for them. Pander much? Be honest and just vote for the things.

Anonymous said...

Next week the indictments for the past administration's nothing burger Muller report. GITMO's guillotines will be in full opperation for the democrat's treasonists infidels!
Broadcasts Worldwide from CNN Clinton news Network.

Anonymous said...

8:37. Cuckoo Cuckoo take your meds