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).