Once an epicenter of controversy following the 2020 presidential contest, Pennsylvania is again making election-related headlines as a probe conducted by local journalists confirmed that a stockpile of unsecured voting machines was being kept in a publicly accessible walkway at a Luzerne County mall, fueling suspicions of potential fraud, as the Washington Examiner reports.
The stash of voting machines, which reports indicate were held in some sort of container, were found sitting in a public space at the Terrace Plaza mall in Hazelton following local elections last week, a fact which prompted citizens to request that the Eyewitness News I-Team from local NBC affiliate WBRE 28/WYOU22 conduct an investigation.
Once the station’s investigative reporters began asking questions, the machines were relocated to a locked, fully secured space, but the fact remains that they had been in their prior, highly questionable location since last Tuesday, according to PA Homepage.
Laura Gruene, manager of Terrace Plaza, explained to WBRE, “I don’t think they should be in the middle of the mall area. I told them where the room is over there to keep them secure. But we watch them.”
Local director of elections Bob Morgan admitted that the machines – used by voters in Hazelton’s Fifth Ward – should not have been kept in a publicly accessible space, but added, “Anything that could be tampered with such as memory cards were removed. There are no ballots inside. These are basically empty shells.”
The improper storage of voting machines was not the only controversy to plague last week’s elections, according to the Examiner, as county Republicans also expressed frustration with incorrect labeling that appeared on electronic ballots that caused voters of all party affiliation to see only Democrat primary labeling on the initial screen, something which reportedly caused widespread confusion.
Morgan later attributed the mishap to Dominion Voting Systems, which later issued a statement saying that despite the screen error, “all ballots are printing correctly with the Republican header and the Republican primary election races,” adding, “As the county has reassured the voting public, all ballots will be correctly counted.”
County GOP chairman Justin Behrens remained unmoved, however, saying to local Fox affiliate WOLF, “So I think the biggest concern here is we need to gain trust in the voting process and build integrity back to it. The Republican people felt like their voice was not spoken.”
In attempt to get to the bottom of each of these alarming issues, the Luzerne County Election Board has scheduled a public meeting for Monday evening in hopes of “restoring confidence in the citizens of Luzerne County that their vote counts.” In light of the glaring issues with ballot integrity raised in the aftermath of the November election, that may be a tough hill to climb.