Thursday, June 03, 2021

NorCo's Elections Results Now Official, But Nearly 10% of MIBs Rejected

At a meeting yesterday afternoon, Northampton County's Elections Commission voted to certify the results of the May 18 municipal primary election. The vote to certify was cast by the Democratic members of the Commission -  Dr. Alan Brau, Daniel Lopresti and Gail W Preuninger. Republicans Maudenia Hornick and Frank L DeVito, who also are members of the Commission, were both absent.

In her report, Registrar Amy Cozze indicated there were 45,631 voters in the municipal primary, which included 16,010 mail-in ballots (MIBs). This is nearly twice the turnout in the last municipal primary in 2019. That was prior to the advent of no-excuse MIBs. "We have increased our turnout quite a bit," she remarked

Cozze told the board that there were fewer naked ballots than there were in the Presidential election last year. But now there's a new problem. Nearly 10% of the MIBs were undated. Under Pennsylvania law, those ballots had to be rejected. 

The MIBs were counted  by 3 pm on election day.  The remaining votes were counted and on the website, unofficially, within about two hours after polls closed. Cozze also conducted a two per cent audit of the ballots cast, which was 100% accurate. In addition, a risk-limiting audit is being done statewide. 

Commissioner Dr. Alan Brau and Gail Preuninger suggested the elections office increase its efforts to make sure MIBs are dated. Although Cozze indicated her staff has fairly detailed instructions, she intends to make the importance of dating MIBs more clear prior to the general election. 

Daniel Lopresti noted that, in the Presidential, he received emails from the Department of State concerning his application for a MIB. But in this primary, he received no confirmatory emails. Registrar Cozze noted that this function is handled by the Department of State, and has been "hit or miss" this cycle. She indicated anyone concerned about a MIB can call her office. 

Solicitor Richard Santee told the Commission that, on his end, it was a "quiet" day. Issues did arise in one unspecified race, but Santee said they were resolved. Though he did not say so, Santee was referring to an overeager pollworker who insisted on assisting a Spanish-speaking voter against her wishes in the South Bethlehem magisterial race. 

No other election day problems were discussed. But there were some minor issues. Some of the machines experienced paper jams. Those were fixed, and the machines have been flagged for inspection. Two election judges pulled the flash drives from voting machines before the polls closed, but no votes were lost because of the paper ballot backup.  

Cozze did advise that she wants to hire a new printer to prepare ballots for the general election and will be issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP). 

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Bernie, is it legal for Tara Zirinski to use the county computer system to send out mail with the header Zirinski for State Representative? Seems like that could be a problem.

Anonymous said...

Why did the two republican members of the "BOARD" not attend? Is it so they can claim fraud in the system? Minority representation is mandated by "law". If this is their way of attempting to claim fraud it is ludicrous. If you don't want to fulfill the duties and obligations of serving on this Board then resign and the republicans should find someone who will serve while holding the electorate as well as the entire election system their primary concern. These two individuals are nominated to serve by the Republican Party. Shame on them.

Anonymous said...

Great reporting as always Bernie and congrats to the county for another well run election. Your coverage of the meeting highlights what the great majority of us already know and trust - that we have responsible and competent individuals in charge who make sure things are working and who are aware that the process can always be improved.

Putting the spotlight on this meeting eliminates the veracity of any bogus claims that there was any sort of shenanigans going on.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Bernie, is it legal for Tara Zirinski to use the county computer system to send out mail with the header Zirinski for State Representative? Seems like that could be a problem."

Your comment is completely OT and actually insults me and the time I spend writing a story. Aa for Zrinski, I have no idea how the hell you would know she is using the county computer system. Explain how you know.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Why did the two republican members of the "BOARD" not attend? "

I have no idea why the GOP members were absent. It could very well be that they simply were unable to attend. These meetings to certify results are usually on short notice. But like you, I am suspicious.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Putting the spotlight on this meeting eliminates the veracity of any bogus claims that there was any sort of shenanigans going on."

There was one very close race. There were a few minor issues, as there always are in every election in every county. I heard no allegation of fraud by anyone. Not even ballot harvesting.

Anonymous said...

@BO 8:17AM - I meant that your coverage of the meeting (and the fact that it was held and open to the public) and your explanations of what topics were discussed and what issues were raised as a whole just eliminates any sort of false narrative ghost stories that "shady government types are running rampant and trampling the will of the people..."

Frank DeVito said...

"Why did the two republican members of the "BOARD" not attend? Is it so they can claim fraud in the system? Minority representation is mandated by "law". If this is their way of attempting to claim fraud it is ludicrous. If you don't want to fulfill the duties and obligations of serving on this Board then resign and the republicans should find someone who will serve while holding the electorate as well as the entire election system their primary concern. These two individuals are nominated to serve by the Republican Party. Shame on them."

Thanks for jumping the gun and making partisan assumptions. As one of the two absent election commissioners, I can tell you that I did not make the meeting because my wife and I just had our third child this past weekend. I told my fellow commissioners, the solicitor, and the elections office officials that this meeting fell on our due date and I would likely not make it.

This is the first meeting I have missed in a year and a half of service. I attended all the post-November 2020 meetings, including an 8+ hour series of hearings on provisional ballots and the meeting where the commission certified the November 2020 election. Why would I attend every meeting associated with November 2020, and then intentionally miss a meeting certifying an uncontroversial municipal primary to somehow promote voter fraud theories? Bad logic.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Thank you for explaining your absence and congrats.

Anonymous said...

10% of ballots being invalidated is a HUGE problem! Totally unacceptable. There should be a target like 0.5%, and if they haven't gotten there, continue to strive to make it more reliable. Or switch to internet voting, so it is more like voting on a machine in person. We can't accept 10% of MIB's being tossed.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Absolutely.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"10% of ballots being invalidated is a HUGE problem! Totally unacceptable."

I agree. It strikes me as inappropriate to reject an undated ballot so long as it is actually received on or before the election date. But the courts have felt differently, concluding there is no wiggle room in the statute.

The elections commission shared your view. The elections office will do its best to make this statutory requirement more clear. I could see myself, in a rush, making that mistake.

Anonymous said...

Lehigh Township has approved a r4esolution that bans mail-in ballots and drop boxes in their township. They want to overturn the new election law that is seen as illegal. Voter protection..

Anonymous said...

Don't be naive- there are always shenanigans going on.