WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — At Kistler Elementary School in South Wilkes-Barre, one of the largest polling places in the city, poll workers say they are seeing about a 20 % voter turnout which is the norm for municipal elections.
Luzerne County is under scrutiny because of issues they have had in recent elections but no major problems have been reported.
They have initiated an access policy to polling places that were not enforced in the past they say to protect the integrity of the election.
Voters walk into and exit the polling place at the Kistler Elementary School in Wilkes-Barre usually, Eyewitness News would show you inside the polling place but not this year.
Luzerne County has a policy barring people, who are not voters at the specific polling place, including the media from entering polling places.
County officials say the policy is based on state election law which requires people to stay 10 feet away from the polling place entrance.
“We obviously want transparency we also want to keep the voters allow them to vote and keep their information private. So that everyone is feeling that they had the opportunity to vote and weren’t intimidated. We are just trying to enforce new practices in the county and come up with better ideas and practices moving forward. We don’t have problems or issues,” explained Paula Radick, Asst. Solicitor Luzerne County Bureau of Elections.
County officials say this is the first year an access policy, based on state law, is contained in the poll workers handbook.
When asked if the law has always been there the policy has just not been enforced Radic stated, “Well, that’s our understanding. It hadn’t been enforced in the past so now we are asking that it be enforced at polling places.”
Acting Luzerne County manager Romilda Crocamo says it’s all about protecting the integrity of the vote.
“Right now the law, the purpose of the law is to protect the privacy of the voters and we are going to enforce that,” said Crocamo.
A spokesperson from the Department of State which oversees elections in the Commonwealth says when it comes to media access each county can set its own policy. However, Luzerne County officials insist they are following the letter of the law.