HAZLETON, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — An I-Team investigation has found unsecured voting machines in Luzerne County.
Questions are being asked about why voting machines were left in a public walkway inside a Hazleton mall. Residents reached out to the I-Team to look into the situation in Hazleton.
The voting machines and what appears to be some type of container were inside the Terrace Plaza Mall in the Heights section of the city. They were located in a public walkway area. After the I-Team got involved and started asking questions, they were moved to a secured, locked room.
Voters in Hazleton’s Fifth Ward cast their votes here. The mall manager tells the I-Team the voting machines were here since Tuesday.
“I don’t think they should be in the middle of the mall area. I told them where the room is over there to keep them secure. But we watch them,” mall manager Laura Gruene said.
Mall employees moved the voting machines to that secure room. The I-Team contacted the Director of Elections about these voting machines. He says they have to retrieve more than 900 machines county wide and that can take several days to complete.
He admitted that the voting machines probably should not have been located in an area accessible to the public. He also tells the I-Team: “Anything that could be tampered with such as memory cards were removed. There are no ballots inside. These basically are empty shells. We will contact our mover to get them picked up.”
But the Chairman of the Republican Party says this is another example of county officials, in his words, dropping the ball. This comes just two days after an agreement was reached with county election officials and leaders of the Luzerne County Democratic Party that halted a court injunction that was to be filed by the County GOP. This after a problem surfaced with mislabeled electronic ballots.
The court injunction could have halted the election. The agreement called for all voting-related apparatus to be locked and secured pending further investigation into the ballot mislabeling.
“So in our agreement signed Tuesday it stated that both ballot information ballot machines would be locked and secured. This is not locked and secured. It’s a complete violation of what we signed on Tuesday,” Luzerne County GOP chairman Justin Behrens said.
Behrens tells the I-Team he is consulting with the party attorney to decide their next move. While county election officials admit the machines should have been in a more secure location they say integrity of the election will not be compromised.