WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Concerns and questions are again being raised about the operations of the Luzerne County Bureau of Elections after the announcement that its Executive Director is resigning less than a month before the November general election.
It comes after problems in recent elections, problems some voters say have eroded their confidence in the election process.
The problems during recent elections here in Luzerne County are well documented and have been reported on extensively by Eyewitness News. County leaders say they are working to ensure there are no additional issues in the upcoming November election.
“We’re moving forward with all the necessary pre-arrangements for Election Day,” said Acting Luzerne County Manager Romilda Crocamo.
Crocamo insists the departure of Robert Morgan, the executive director of the Luzerne County Bureau of Elections on October 8th will not have a negative impact on how the election process is carried out in the county.
“Our election is going forward as planned, working with the consultant. We have developed an operational plan and project calendar. We have daily tasks that we review to make sure they are completed,” explained Crocamo.
“Just do the right thing, take all the tasks to do the right thing, make sure everyone gets what they deserve,” Wilkes-Barre resident Maurice Hill said.
Hill says that means a fair election process. We heard that over and over again from voters in Luzerne County. Executive Director Morgan was hired last year, but announced in recent days he will be taking a position in the private sector.
When asked who will be overseeing the operations, Crocamo stated, “We do have a deputy director Erin Harvey. I will be discussing whether we will have an acting director with the Board of Elections in Executive session tomorrow.”
All of this comes as Luzerne County is still trying to regain voter confidence after ongoing problems in the past two elections. In the November 2020 election, nine military ballots were accidentally thrown into the trash.
That prompted a federal investigation which found no criminal wrongdoing and in the May primary this year, there were problems with electronic ballots. The header was mislabeled with the incorrect party. It was determined to be human error.
“Yeah, unfortunately, it is a saga that never ends. I was very much shocked when told that Mr. Morgan was going to resign,” said Tim McGinley, the Luzerne County Council Chairman.
County Council Chairman McGinley says the county will do whatever it takes to ensure a fair and accurate election.
“We are going to have to come up with a plan. The manager assures there is a plan in place to make sure the election runs very successful in November,” explained McGinley.
“You know I have plenty of concerns and we are 0 for 3 in past three election cycles,” said Harry Haas, a Luzerne County Councilmember.
Haas says something must be done to regain voter confidence.
“People were disenfranchised each time. Obviously, Bob Morgan came on a few months now but it’s like the status quo in Luzerne County,” stated Haas.
The leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties in Luzerne County are watching how the county handles this situation very closely.
“So my biggest concern is what’s the validation we have? What’s the assurance we have that this election is going to run smoothly. We saw what happened in three previous elections and I don’t want these flaws to happen now. Let’s be proactive, not reactive as a team,” explained Justin Behrens, the Chairman of Luzerne County GOP.
Kathy Bozinski the Chairperson of the Luzerne County Democratic Party issued a statement that reads in part:
“We have all the confidence in the election bureau staff and other county workers who may be brought in to support them. Our concern is that change of leadership just one month before the election is bound to have some impact.”The Luzerne County Democratic Party
Mary Jane Jurish says she is not overly concerned.
“You know I haven’t had any problem when I go to vote so I don’t know if there is a problem. People make more of it than it really is,” Jurish said.
Crocamo mentioned they were working with a consulting group last month. The county hired a firm to help guide the County Bureau of Elections because of the seemingly ongoing problems that have occurred in recent elections.