While they weren’t catastrophic, a few problems in last week’s election revealed Luzerne County’s voting machines are starting to show their age, county Election Director Marisa Crispell said. The county started using touch-screen electronic voting machines in the 2006 primary, or 11 years ago. “Technology is constantly moving forward,” Crispell said. “Many people change phones every two years and regularly update their laptops. These machines are no different.” One example she cited: The touch-screen capabilities froze on a few machines in the election last Tuesday. After officials verified no votes were cast on the machines, they were taken out of service, Crispell said. In Larksville, a back-up retrieval device had to be used to collect election data from voting machines because the device normally used to load ballots and extract results — called a personal election ballot, or PEB — failed, Crispell said. Result tallies for several machines also had to be printed at the county election bureau, as opposed to polling places, because a few hand-held printers were not working properly, she said.
Like many of her colleagues across the state, Crispell said she continues to research options for Luzerne County’s next voting system.
Luzerne County has no capital funds set aside for new voting machines. Election officials in Pennsylvania have been informed no federal funding is expected for the next generation of machines, Crispell said.
The federal government gave the county $3.6 million to fund the initial switch to the electronic voting machines now in use and cover the cost of other improvements required by the Help America Vote Act, commonly called HAVA, officials said.