The Lead

Election Day in Pennsylvania starts with delayed polling place openings, malfunctioning voting machines

By: - November 7, 2023 12:12 pm

A sign directs voters in State College, Pennsylvania, on Tuesday, May 16, 2023. (Capital-Star photo)

Delayed openings and malfunctioning voting machines kicked off Election Day morning at polling places in at least two Pennsylvania counties on Tuesday. 

Election officials in Northampton County began their morning with a county-wide voting machine issue affecting a judicial retention race.

“Northampton County Elections Office reports an issue with the recording of votes only for the races for retention to the Pennsylvania Superior Court, affecting Judge Jack Panella and Judge Victor P. Stabile,” a statement from the County reads. “It appears that when a voter selects a ‘Yes’ or a ‘No’ for one of the candidates for retention to the Pennsylvania Superior Court, the selection is recorded on the paper ballot and on the machine for the other candidate.” 

So far, county officials and officials at the Pennsylvania Department of State have said the voting machine issue has only affected the judicial retention race for the Superior Court. 

County election officials said they notified poll workers by text message about the issue, telling them to “instruct voters before the voter enters the voting booth that there is an issue with the recording of their vote for the candidates for retention to the Pennsylvania Superior Court” and that the paper receipt will record their selection for that race to the other candidate.

A spokesperson for the Department of State said they are aware of the issues in Northampton County and are working with local election officials to resolve them. 

“Secretary Al Schmidt quickly contacted county election officials and offered the Department’s full support and assistance,” the department said in an email to the Capital-Star.

A court order to extend polling place hours to 9 p.m. on Election Day was submitted to the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County, but was later withdrawn by petitioners, court documents show.

Order & Petition for Relief in the General Election of 2023 by PennCapitalStar on Scribd

Amid reports that a handful of polling places in Allegheny County were delayed in opening on Tuesday morning, the Department of State told the Capital-Star that it is up to local election officials to request a court order to keep the polling place open later than 8 p.m. on Election Day, depending on the number of voters affected by the delay.

As of noon on Tuesday, no such requests have been made, according to Allegheny County officials.

Voters are asked to report election problems and complaints online or by calling 1-877-VOTESPA (1-877-868-3772).

This was updated at 1:15 p.m. with additional comment from the Pennsylvania Department of State.

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Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.