Wednesday, November 23, 2022

The LuLac Edition #4, 851, November 23rd, 2022



Our “Write On Wednesday” logo

Last week when Paper gate broke over the Luzerne County voting process asn issue, we urged an investigation but then advised that it didn’t have a woeful effect on the vote count. Apparently the Times Leader newspaper agreed. Here’s what they wrote.


We still believe it’s too early to say with certainty what went wrong on Election Day when voting machines lacked sufficient paper. Clearly someone made an unforgivable mistake, and must suffer the consequences. Clearly the county gave itself a black eye, and corrections must be made.

A lot of understandably angry people have been speaking out and offering options. We think enough has been uncovered to start separating good ideas from bad.

For starters, Luzerne County Councilman Matthew Mitchell’s call to change the ban on council intervention during elections is at best short-sighted. We get the frustration on the home rule charter restrictions that say no council member shall publicly or privately give directions or orders to employees, and Mitchell’s call for a charter change in the wake of the paper fiasco may seem reasonable, but it isn’t.

What, exactly, would individual council members have done during the paper shortage that could have changed things without risking making it worse? Even well-intentioned interventions in the day-to day business of the administration of elections could — and in our hyper-partisan world likely would — be interpreted as improper by someone. Generally, the fewer hands in the process, the lower the odds of improper meddling and the easier it should be to investigate problems.

Other ideas voiced this week:

• The Election Board’s unanimous decision to refer the matter to the county District Attorney’s office was the right one for now. The paper issue requires more scrutiny outside of the election bureau, and this is the next rational step. Calls for an investigation by an outside agency are premature. Councilman Stephen J. Urban suggested spending $100,000 to hire outside attorneys, but didn’t elaborate. A larger external investigation may be needed at some point, but bringing in the DA is the appropriate step now.

• Calls for resignations and firings are also premature, in part because high turnover in election administration could well have contributed to this, and in part because it has strong political overtones. Acting Election Director Beth McBride clearly needs to explain the paper shortage adequately or step down. Election Board members are much less likely to deserve blame since the board does not deal with day-to-day election bureau work.

Anger that election bureau officials did not attend the recent election board meeting was understandable, but so was the reason given for the absence: It would certainly seem their primary focus be on resolving all the issues regarding various types of ballots cast so a truer vote count can be made and, one hopes, certified. Still, a presence at the meeting could have helped.

Which brings up calls for an election do-over, a step that, by complexity alone, seems should be an extraordinary last resort.

That those involved merit a “shame on you” — and that this has made the county “a laughingstock in this country” — is true enough. But we believe former county election director Michael Susek hit the right tone when he pointed out the bureau has been plagued with turnover, making it harder for staff to get things done.

Susek himself acknowledged that he contributed to the problem by leaving the position on Aug. 11.

“There has been no continuity there,” he said at Monday night’s special Election Board meeting. “I encourage a more tempered response.”

For now, so do we.

Times Leader




At 6:51 AM, Blogger Short Story Scribe said...

While it may not have impacted vote count, it impacted voter confidence at a time when we can't have something like this happen.
There is a phase to check for accuracy and logistics. Logistics would be the paper.
What kind of idiot doesn't check to make sure the machines are properly packed with paper? I'll tell you, a political hack who had no business in the position to which they were appointed.
Gilbert McBride, if she had honor, would resign. If she does not sure must be fired. If she stays in her current position, all it will do is confirm what many within and outside the county think of our nepotism filled, incompetent local governments.


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