Judge Orders Pennsylvania County Polling Sites Stay Open Later Due to Paper Shortages

Judge Orders Pennsylvania County Polling Sites Stay Open Later Due to Paper Shortages
Voters cast their ballots at the Bok Building in Philadelphia during the U.S. midterm election on Nov. 8, 2022. (Ryan Collerd/AFP via Getty Images)

A judge in Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County has ordered all polling sites to remain open for two additional hours after paper shortages cropped up during the midterm elections.

Court of Common Pleas Judge Lesa Gelb entered the order after hearing from county officials, who lodged a petition on Nov. 8 for extended hours.

“Voters in Luzerne County through no fault of their own, were disenfranchised and denied the fundamental right to vote,” Gelb said in her order, which was made “in an effort to protect and maintain the integrity of the 2022 General Election and to protect the voters of this County.”

The sites were originally slated to remain open until 8 p.m. They’ll now be open until 10 p.m.

Gelb ordered the county and the court clerk to notify the appropriate election officials.

Some 35 precincts were being affected by the shortages, Beth Gilbert McBride, the county’s acting elections director, told the judge during the hearing, the Standard-Speaker reported. The backup plan in such situations is to turn to provisional ballots, but there were also shortages of those ballots, according to McBride.

The county has 186 precincts.

New paper is not scheduled to arrive until 4:30 p.m., McBride said.

Geld said she viewed the situation as “a major problem that is disenfranchising the voters of Luzerne County,” the Speaker reported.

The Democratic Party of Luzerne County supported extending precinct hours while the Republican Party of Luzerne County did not take a position on the petition.

Republicans requested any votes cast during the new hours be provisional, which would let officials know which voters voted during the two-hour time period, but the judge did not immediately rule on that request.

County officials said that they’re investigating the matter.

Acting Deputy Director of Elections Emily Cook told WNEP-TV there were multiple factors, including high voter turnout. McBride told another outlet that “each machine that was deployed to the polling locations should have been pre-loaded with the necessary amount of paper that is required throughout the day” and “that did not happen.”

Voters were encouraged to go vote.

The county’s Bureau of Elections did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The bureau does not list the updated hours as of yet on its website.

Polls in Luzerne County opened at 7 a.m.

The county has a population of about 326,000. It is in the northern portion of the state, just below Scranton, and includes the cities of Wilkes-Barre and Hazleton.

From The Epoch Times

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