WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — The process of certifying the general election in Luzerne County led to heavy criticism at an election board meeting on Monday morning. Monday is the deadline to certify the election.
The public meeting was held inside the county council chambers in the Luzerne County Courthouse.
More than a dozen voters and volunteers urged against certifying the election for several reasons, including the shortage of ballot paper, the inability for people to vote, misspellings on ballots, voters being turned away, and a lack of privacy for voters.
Only two speakers spoke in favor of certifying the election.
"Denying even one voter the right to vote is inexcusable, and too many were turned away, denying numerous voters their most basic right. The only solution to this voter disenfranchisement is decertifying," said Robin Coshan from Dallas Township.
"We had so many issues. We had 300 and some people here two weeks ago explaining their issues," said Jamie Walsh of Ross Township.
Only a couple of people spoke in favor of certification.
"I have confidence that you fulfilled your duty to canvass and compute the ballots, and now urge you to complete your final statutory obligation and certify the election results," said Alicia Hoffman-Marelovich of Fairview Township.
After public comment, the members of the board discussed their opinions on the matter.
"There have been enough irregularities and enough discrepancies and enough disenfranchisement of disenfranchised voters in this county that I don't understand how we could possibly proceed without seriously considering a re-vote," said James Magna, (R) Board of Elections vice chair.
"We went over everything meticulously as far as the reconciliations, that's any anomalies were pretty much explained. And it was due to the confusion at the polls because of the paper shortage," said Audrey Serniak, (D) Board of Elections member.
Two Democratic members of the board voted to certify the election. Two Republican members voted against it, and one Democrat member abstained.
"My feeling is I needed a little more information. So, I really didn't want to say, 'Oh, yeah, we're done with it now.' I want more information, so I can make a short decision on that it's right to certify it or to not certify it," said Daniel Schramm, (D) Board of Elections member.
Members of the Luzerne County Board of Elections tell Newswatch 16 they will consult their lawyer and the state as to what happens next.
"I'm hoping for a delay," said Schramm. "That was one of the things to delay making the decision until a little bit further in the future. Just to look at some of these other numbers and get some numbers in line and then see where we go from there."
Schramm said later in the afternoon on Monday that he now feels confident in the election’s integrity and plans to vote to certify the election later this week. He told Newswatch 16 that questions he had about numbers have been answered by the Bureau of Elections and its solicitor. Schramm said he does not believe any voter was disenfranchised.
The vote is scheduled to take place on Wednesday at 1 p.m. in Council Chambers at the courthouse.
A judge ruled that polling places remain open on Election Day after numerous locations ran out of paper necessary for voters to cast ballots.
A day later, the Luzerne County Manager announced plans to resign.
Members of the Luzerne County Bureau of Elections and volunteers have been manually counting and examining provisional ballots cast on Election Day.