WILKES BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Luzerne County elections officials were scrambling Tuesday after receiving a barrage of complaints about the county’s electronic voting machine turning Republican votes for Donald Trump to votes for Hillary Clinton.
Eyewitness News was the first to report the problem early Tuesday morning after more than a score of voters contacted us saying that when they checked the straight-party Republican ticket option on their voting machine all the GOP candidates were checked – except Trump. Instead, Hillary Clinton’s name appeared as their selection.
“If you click on Republican,” says “Becky”, a Dallas voter. “Hillary was automatically picked and moved to the next screen. I went back to change it and it wouldn’t let me. I had to have someone come over and reset my scree. She said that it happened to someone earlier.”
“I now believe that this is rigged!”, she wrote Eyewitness News.
“My concern is I was smart enough to realize that after making three separate attempts to try to complete my ballot,” says Lorraine of Pittston Township “the machine was trying to cast it for me. I stopped and called for help.”
Election officials initially told us that they had received no word of the problem, then conceded about an hour later there was a problem.
“We’ve gotten several calls,” Luzerne County Election Bureau Solicitor Mike Butera told us just before 11:00 a.m.. Initially, they said the problems appeared to be related to “voter error” “We sent technicians to every polling place where we received a complaint. We found no vote flipping at all. We have found some machine glitches, which were fixed.”
While the problem seemed most troublesome in the Butler Township, Drums and Rock Glen precincts, it soon began appearing elsewhere around the county.
Eyewitness News has learned the problem appears to be more widespread, however, with the same “glitch” being reported in Columbia, Carbon and Monroe Counties and in other parts of central Pennsylvania.
Elections officials say in each case they’ve been made aware of, the voter was able to cast an accurate vote for the candidate of their choice – saying there was no “vote flipping” occurring at the polling stations.
Luzerne County Bureau of Elections Director Marissa Crispell says initially there appeared to be a calibration problem with some machines. “You might select a straight Democrat party ticket, and it would send you to the Green party. It was an obvious problem, which was easily fixed when brought to the attention of poll workers.”
Officials also indicated some of the problem might be due to “voter error” as many voters aren’t familiar with the wide variety of electronic voting machines being used in Pennsylvania.
The problems in Luzerne County are indicative of the suspicion many voters have in the outcome of the 2016 election, especially the presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Trump has campaigned for weeks on what he’s called a “rigged election”.
Earlier in the day, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Pedro Cortes dismissed Trump’s allegations, telling Eyewitness News during a live interview from the state capitol in Harrisburg that Pennsylvania has a good, secure voting system.
“It is unfortunate that it has been some of the talk of this election, he said. “Pennsylvania has a very good history of running elections that are fair, that are smooth, that you can trust. Elections are not perfect, but they are legitimate and there’s no basis to substantiate those claims. It’s important for voters to know that our machines in Pennsylvania are not connected to the internet, they’re not even connected to each other.”