WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — A Luzerne County Board of Election member abstained Monday during a vote to certify the November Election results. Only to change his mind later in the day.
This is unchartered territory for Luzerne County, which has been in the national spotlight in recent years because of ongoing problems running its elections.
Eyewitness News spoke with Dan Schramm on Tuesday, who abstained during the vote to certify the election results, resulting in a deadlock vote: two ‘yes’ and two ‘no’ votes. Schramm insists he wanted to make sure voter concerns were addressed.
“I really didn’t change really quickly. I had left then I started to investigate things,” said Dan Schramm, Luzerne County Election Board Member.
Dan Schramm says he wanted to take a closer look at the concerns and questions being raised by voters who turned out for the election board meeting, Monday morning.
“I really didn’t change my mind until probably 3:30 – 4:00 in the afternoon. So I had gone through and looked at a lot of counts lots of things. It wasn’t one time, half an hour later my mind was changed. No, I really looked into a lot of different things,” Schramm explained.
Among those things, Schramm says voter’s concerns that some people were turned away from polling places because of a paper shortage.
“One of the things when they said so many people were turned away I looked around to see how many were turned away, who turned them away. I contacted the bureau of elections and talked with Beth McBride. She said she had contacted the judges of elections of 125 precincts and they said they turned no one away. So that’s two-thirds of the precincts, nobody was turned away,” added Schramm.
Schramm also says he wants to respond to concerns from some voters that their votes cast on paper may not have been counted.
“If a ballot had x’s on it the x’s were counted. The machine couldn’t count it, but the humans, the board of elections, we counted them. If there were check marks we counted them,” Schramm continued.
Schramm says he will vote to certify the election results at a special meeting at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday. He says he understands voter frustrations.
Eyewitness News asked, “Where do we go from here moving forward?
To which Schramm replied, “I really don’t know. I think what we need is more training for poll workers and that and possibly look to see about do we want to run our elections a new way advancing forward,” Schramm stated.
Under state law, the election results had to be certified 20 days after the election. Which was Monday. Counties that do not, could face penalties.
But a spokesperson for the Department of the State which oversees elections in the commonwealth issued a statement to Eyewitness News. That reads in part:
“At present, there is no indication that the county would face penalties. However, the department continues to monitor the situation.”
Those penalties could include fines and the same spokesperson tells Eyewitness News the department is in contact with Luzerne County officials moving forward to make sure the election code is being followed and to offer assistance if needed.
And again, the Luzerne County District Attorney is investigating the paper shortage.