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Carbon stops vote count

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    Scanners sit in their cases in the storage room. The new machines will be distributed to the precincts for the general election. The “I Voted” box in front is one of the voting booths that will be set up around each precinct for voters to fill out their ballots.

Published November 19. 2019 01:06PM


The Carbon County Board of Elections plans to certify results from the 2019 general election during a meeting at 11 a.m. Friday.

Commissioner William O’Gurek, chairman of the county election board, said Monday that an ongoing hand count canvass will end Tuesday after 29 of the 51 precincts have been completed.

“What we found out through that is that while there were some variations in some of the races of a vote here or a vote there, we don’t believe that they are any different from what the scanner totals are,” O’Gurek said.

“We’re pretty confident after the hand count of these 29 districts, that the results of the election are not going to change.”

O’Gurek said initially, results were entered into a spreadsheet between midnight and 6 a.m. on election night and the county released what it believed to be accurate vote tally totals.

There was at least one major discrepancy, however, 358 votes not counted from Lehighton Borough Ward 1 in the Clerk of Courts race as pointed out by candidate Fran Heaney.

That prompted the election board to order a hand count of votes, beginning Nov. 9.

“The first order of business was to look at the precincts to see that the numbers on the tapes that were reflected on the spreadsheet we released,” O’Gurek said.

Several errors were found during that canvass and the major changes made included:

• Fran Heaney received 178 votes, compared to 163 for Tyra Boni in Lehighton Borough Ward 1. There were two write-ins and 15 undervotes.

• Commissioner candidate Chris Lukasevich received 124 votes in Penn Forest’s Middle District, when the spreadsheet had him listed as receiving 12.

• A judicial retention vote in Towamensing’s South district changed the yes vote from 4 to 74.

“When you have someone working from midnight to 6 a.m. entering numbers into a computer, I think we what saw happen there was human error,” O’Gurek said. “The mistakes were very identifiable in the system we are using.”

A 28-page summary, O’Gurek said, with what the county believes to be the accurate vote count will be made available to anyone who requests it.

Dominion Voting Systems provided a high-speed scanner to do the rescan to verify that the system was functioning as it is intended.

“The high-speed scan totals should be completed today or tomorrow,” O’Gurek said. “We believe those results will mirror the results of the spreadsheet modification done when those errors we discussed were found.”

Lee Becker, chairman of the Carbon County Republican Committee, Wallace Putkowski and Katie Kokinda filed a complaint against the election board and asked for an immediate halt to the hand count because, they say, the action was not allowable as part of the canvassing to certify the vote.

A hearing in Carbon County Court in front of President Judge Roger Nanovic is scheduled for Wednesday at 9 a.m.

County Solicitor Dan Miscavige said he did not know how the decision to stop the hand count would impact the status of the hearing.


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