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Luzerne Co. election chair withheld vote counts from TV news, report shows

The chairman of the Luzerne County Election Bureau who had already inserted his foot in his mouth a day earlier, confirmed to a local newspaper that he decided not to release election returns to TV news stations because reporters were "screaming and yelling and late to the game."
Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County- A newspaper revealed the chairman of the Luzerne County Bureau of Elections withheld election results from TV news stations during a massive county website crash. Vote counts in Luzerne County were virtually blacked-out to voters, candidates and WBRE-TV and WYOU-TV viewers.

H. Jeremy Packard told the The Citizens' Voice in an interview on Wednesday that TV news reporters were "ticked off" that the election bureau had not provided them with vote results.

Eyewitness News was seriously hampered in broadcasting results of the the several hundred races in the county for the primary election.

Packard was quoted as saying: "The TV people were yelling and screaming, late in the game."

The county's website had crashed under heavy volume, according to county manager Robert Lawton on Wednesday. Packard, on Tuesday night, said he couldn't say why the website had tanked. He then said, "We're trying to run a friggin' election here."

Lawton would not comment on Packard's conduct, saying the election bureau is independent from the county administration.

A message left at Packard's home late Wednesday night was not returned.

The election bureau acknowledged providing election results to Wilkes-Barre's two newspapers, but not TV news stations. It's unclear if Packard unilaterally made the decision to withhold the results from TV news stations.

A message left for county solicitor David Pedri was not immediately returned.

Multiple messages left for election bureau solicitor Michael Butera were not returned.
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