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I-Team: Election integrity in Luzerne County

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Luzerne County officials say they are taking action to help ensure the integrity of the November general election. They say it will also help restore voter confidence in the election process after problems and issues in recent elections.

The problems that have occurred during recent elections in Luzerne County are well documented and have been reported on extensively by Eyewitness News. Now the acting county manager plans on hiring an election consulting firm to help run the November general election.

“The consultant will enhance and bring a new perspective for the administration and the election bureau for this general election,” said Romilda Crocamo, acting Luzerne County manager.

According to Crocamo, about the hiring of “the elections group’ based in Colorado, the move comes after what seems to be ongoing issues with the election process in Luzerne County.

In November 2020 election, nine military ballots were accidentally thrown into the trash. That prompted a federal investigation that found no criminal wrongdoing, and in the May primary election, there were problems with electronic ballots.

The header was mislabeled with the incorrect party. It was determined to be human error. These are the types of issues that Crocamo hopes to prevent in the future.

“This is an investment in the election process in Luzerne County. I have full faith in the Bureau of Elections and the staff that’s there. But having a consultant, a group with individuals who have years of experience in running elections, can only aid us in making sure we have a successful general election,” explained Crocamo.

Luzerne County Council Chairman Tim McGinley supports the move.

“Well, I think it’s a positive step for Luzerne County. Obviously, we’ve known for the last couple of elections that we’ve had issues in conducting elections and this would be a chance to bring in a third party who are experts who could look at the process,” McGinley says. “Look at how we operate and come back with some strong recommendations maybe put a set of procedures together that are very positive.”

The I-Team spoke with the chairpersons of the republican and democrat parties in Luzerne County.

“I think it’s a good idea, let’s face it the folks who work in the election bureau right now are very, very capable very, very hardworking,” Kathy Bozinski, Luzerne County Democratic chair. “But in this era of budget cuts and bringing in volunteers from other departments to see through a very complicated election, a little bit of outside guidance can’t hurt.”

“It’s refreshing to see they are being very proactive here in Luzerne County with the elections. We saw so many things go wrong in the last three cycles of the election process,” said Justin Behrens, chairman, Luzerne County GOP. “Now we are starting to see a more aggressive manner in doing this.”

Election Bureau Director Bob Morgan supports the hiring of the consultant. He says he and his staff are open to hearing ideas from other election professionals. There has been some question raised by several county council members about the need to pay a consultant $70,000. Crocamo says the money is available in the budget and insists it will benefit the county moving forward.

The I-Team reached out to The Elections Group for comment. We have not heard back.

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