Luzerne County officials discussed concerns Wednesday that batteries for electronic voting machines bought in 2006 could be dying. Tom Pizano, acting director of elections, said he wants the county to start heating the warehouse that stores the 850 touch-screen machines so the temperature doesn’t dip below 55 degrees. Storing the machines in cold temperatures shortens the lives of the batteries, Pizano said at Wednesday’s board of elections meeting. But the county typically doesn’t heat the voting-machine warehouse until after the general election in November, Pizano said. He said he didn’t like a suggestion to use gas-fueled portable heaters in the warehouse because of fumes and because areas nears heaters would get too hot. New batteries for the voting machines would cost more than $60,000, voting machine technician David Bartuski said.
The county in 2006 spent more than $2.4 million in federal money to buy 750 iVotronic machines from Election Systems & Software of Omaha, Neb. The county last year bought another 100 iVotronic machines, which Election Systems & Software no longer manufactures, Bartuski said. Bartuski and Pizano said they learned about the batteries could be dying from Election Systems & Software during a recent conference in Columbia County.
The heating system for the warehouse along Water Street is tied to heating other facilities, including the Luzerne County Correctional Facility, and that makes turning the heat on earlier in the year complicated, Pizano said. Officials also expressed concerned about Pennsylvania’s controversial voter photo identification law. Board Chairman H. Jeremy Packard noted the law could still be invalidated by the state Supreme Court before the Nov. 6 election. “I’m praying,” Pizano responded.