Voters and officials weigh in on concerns ahead of election

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — It’s election eve in Pennsylvania and people will head to the polls Tuesday to vote for candidates in the state, county and municipal races.

Bureau of Election officials are dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s Monday night as a spotlight is on Luzerne County, which has had issues in recent elections, including during preparations for Tuesday’s election.

Voters Eyewitness News spoke with say they still have some doubts about tomorrow but Luzerne County election officials say they do not expect any major issues.

“Yeah, I’m confident that we’ll have no issues,” Deputy Director of Elections for Luzerne County Eryn Harvey said.

Luzerne County has faced issues in recent elections. In 2020 nine military ballots were tossed into the garbage prompting a federal investigation. No criminal wrongdoing was found. Human error was determined to be the cause.

In May of this year, electronic ballots were mislabeled and human error again was to blame. In recent weeks, problems were found with mail-in ballots sent to voters. Some races were incorrect. Harvey insists the problems have been worked out.

“The staff has been working very hard, management and staff to make sure that we have no issues tomorrow. I know like you said we had issues here in Luzerne County in the past but overall very confident that tomorrow will go very smoothly very well,” said Harvey.

Interim county manager Romilda Crocamo tells the I-Team that safeguards have been put into place to avert issues.

“I want to tell voters that really they should be confident in their vote being counted. We have initiated different protections and procedures and we are really encouraging everyone to vote,” said Crocamo.

There was a steady stream of voters dropping off their mail-in ballots at the Bureau of Elections Elaine Elukoski talked about the job facing Harvey and her staff.

“Yes, I think she’s trying to do a good job. We discussed that at home the other night and people are here to help out. Do the best they can yes, I feel very confident,” said Harvey.

Joan Solewski had had issues with her mail-in ballot and spoke to Harvey about her concern.

“I had to drive 250 miles trying to get in. I didn’t receive my absentee ballot. This happened in the last election. But now with Eryn in charge, I think maybe hopefully things will be different,” said Solewski.

For more information on state elections, you can visit the PA Department of State website and for local elections you can visit the Luzerne County elections site.

Tuesday is General Election Day.

It’s considered an off-year election. State, county and municipal offices are on the ballot.

Sstate and county election officials are right now making final preparations for the vote. Polls open at 7 a.m. an close at 8 p.m.

The I-Team spoke with voters and the question is: will they turn out?

The answer is it really depends on what offices are up for grabs in that specific community or county. But traditionally, voter turnout is low in these off-year elections.

Electronic voting machines are ready to be moved into position at the Toyota Sports Complex on Coal Street in Wilkes-Barre. It is one of the largest voting precincts in the city.

The question is: How many voters will actually use the machines? Dr. Dave Sosar is a retired political science professor at King’s College in Wilkes-Barre and has studied elections for some 50 years.

As compared to a presidential year where the turnout can average around 50 to 55 percent, Dr. Sosar says counties that have had issues running its’ elections, such as Luzerne County could see a turnout of less than 20 percent.

“This is one of those off-year elections. You don’t have mayor’s races or a lot of high-ranking offices. So I think you are gong to see turnout this time to be quite low. I’m figuring 20 to 22 percent at best turnout,” Dr. Sosar said. “I think people, after everything that’s been done so far, there’s nothing else that could possibly get messed up. So I think the confidence is well there at this point.”

Luzerne County Council Chairman Tim McGinley says the county has taken steps to ensure a smooth running election.

“This is the chance to voice your opinion, show support they have for whatever candidate they wish. They should get out and vote,” McGinley said.

Voters the I-Team spoke with say they will turn out Tuesday or have already voted by mail.

“Of course it is a municipal election so it’s not as big as some of the others, but voting is a right and a privilege. I like to do as much as I can,” Kevin McDermott of Hazleton said.

“I think all races are important. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain about what’s going on locally or statewide or nationally,” Joan Sulewski of Nanticoke said.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

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