- Voters continue to face problems in Luzerne County, a highly-watched swing county in Pennsylvania.
- The paper shortage that some voting precincts faced has not yet been resolved, with as many as seven mostly Republican townships still lacking paper.
- Voting was extended to 10 p.m., though some voters report being turned away on promises of being called back, later.
Luzerne County, Pennsylvania — Voters continue to face problems at the polls in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, where polling precincts ran out of ballot paper earlier today.
Across the county, particularly in rural precincts outside Hazleton, voters have been unable to cast ballots per normal procedure – printing a ballot paper after selecting options on a touch-screen voting machine, and scanning the ballot into a secure box. The problem was particularly severe at precincts in Shickshinny, Swoyersville and Shavertown, as observed by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The absence of printed ballot paper has led to some voters being asked to cast provisional ballots, which are counted separately from ballots per the normal procedure, and are usually used for voters with eligibility concerns that are verified later. However, some polling stations ran out of provisional ballots, as well.
This led to some voters being turned away from the polls, told to “come back later” by poll workers who, in some cases, took down their contact details – with poll workers promising that they would be contacted when the paper arrived. One voter, Eliza from Union Township, told the DCNF that she received a text and voted in Shickshinny, three hours after initially trying to vote.
BREAKING: In Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, a judge just ordered the polls to stay open until 10 p.m. because voting machines literally ran out of paper. pic.twitter.com/SWihcheLOO
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) November 8, 2022
However, not all voters had received a text or telephone call by 8 p.m., when polls were initially slated to close, while at least seven Republican-heavy localities – Nioxin, Lake Leman, Harvey’s Lake, Hunlock, Slocum, Dorrance and Hazle Township – had not yet received paper for ballots at that time. This closing time was extended to 10 p.m. by a judge of the Luzerne County Court of Common Pleas at 1 p.m., as reported originally by the DCNF. (RELATED: Major Pennsylvania County Extends Voting Time After Precincts Run Out Of Paper)
Despite this extension, many voters remained dissatisfied with the delay in being able to cast their ballots. “I’m sick of this shit … we need to get the courts involved,” a voter named Ray told the DCNF. He added that he was “afraid my vote won’t be counted,” while a woman, Monica, said she was “on the verge of crying.”
It appears, though, that the issues with the ballot have motivated some voters to turn out when they otherwise would not. An elderly voter, Anne from Hazleton, who was supporting Republican candidates, said that she had not intended to come out to vote, but heard about the paper shortages and “had to show up,” while a Republican poll worker in Kingston Township, a heavily Democratic area, said that GOP turnout exceeded Democrats by 2-to-1, while initial results from Mountaintop’s 2nd Precinct showed GOP candidates winning by approximately 3-to-1.
Speaking to the DCNF by telephone, a poll worker at the Luzerne County Board of Elections office said around 500 to 1,000 voters had been initially turned away but were being contacted to return. Campaigns were observed by the DCNF taking sworn statements from voters about the issues they faced.
A contingent of lawyers and staffers from the House Administration Committee and Republican National Committee are headed to Luzerne to participate in potential legal matters regarding the issue, the DCNF learned.
The issues in Luzerne County, a “Toss Up” county in Pennsylvania, the nation’s most populous battleground state, are considered a key in congressional and statewide elections. The county is within Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District, where Republican Jim Bognet is challenging Democratic Rep. Matt Cartwright, a member of the House Democratic leadership.
Moreover, the county is a key focus in the senatorial race between Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Republican physician Mehmet Oz. The night before Election Day, Oz held a joint rally with Bognet in Hazleton, underscoring the importance of the seat, while a canvasser for Oz’s team said the campaign had authorized extra spending of up to $20,000 for phone banking to turn out voters tonight.
Luzerne’s polls will be the last to close in Pennsylvania, at 10 p.m., and could be the decisive votes in the close race between Oz and Fetterman, whose polling gap in the race’s final days were within the margin of error.
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