Luzerne County, PA Fails to Certify Results After Election Day Fiasco

This morning, the Luzerne County, Pennsylvania Board of Elections deadlocked on a vote to certify the results of the November 8, 2022, midterm election. Two Democrat board members voted in favor of certification; the two Republicans voted against; and the third Democrat abstained, stating that he still wanted clarification and answers from the debacle that occurred on Election Day. The result of the vote was welcomed with a burst of applause from the audience at the county courthouse. Despite the concerns of the County Solicitor, who informed the Board that the State could file a lawsuit against the County as a result of the non-certification, and the Democrats' evident desire to rush ahead with the process, certification of the results would have been premature, and serious questions raised by the November 8, debacle would have remained unanswered.

Luzerne County is one of the largest northeastern Pennsylvania counties—a county trending Republican. It forms part of Pennsylvania's 8th Congressional District. On November 8, 2022, numerous precincts across the county ran out of ballots, some as early as mid-morning, leaving long lines of voters frustrated and disenfranchised. Voters were told to leave the polling places and seek ballots elsewhere; some filled in provisional ballots, others wrote out their votes and submitted them on pieces of copy paper. Deliveries of paper from central locations took hours, if they arrived at all. While the polling places were kept open for an additional two hours pursuant to court order, it is unknown how many potential voters failed to return to cast their vote. Some speculated it was in the hundreds, if not thousands.

The Board of Elections held a public meeting on November 14, 2022, at which a long procession of citizens detailed their complaints. They complained that the election workers lacked training, that the conditions at some locations required them to complete ballots with no regard to the requirement that the ballots be case in secret, and numerous other concerns. Quite simply, the system had fallen apart. The great majority of the participants called for a new election and the board to resign. Even the Chairwoman of the Board stated that there were "clear irregularities with the election," although she voted two weeks later to certify the election! Because of the mess that took place on Election Day, the Board voted unanimously to refer the matter to the District Attorney for investigation. 

It is unclear how long it will take the District Attorney to conduct the investigation. Apparently, the office still has open referrals from 2021. This is not the first time that the same county has had problems on Election Day. What is clear, however, is that many voters were effectively disenfranchised. At the very least, there must be a full investigation and blame must be apportioned. This sorry mess cannot be allowed to happen again to the citizens of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania or of any county in the United States.