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Pennsylvania County to Try New Electronic Poll Books

Luzerne County will conduct a pilot program in the Nov. 7 election, as 30 of the county's 186 voting districts will use a new electronic poll book system while the other districts use paper poll books.

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(TNS) — Luzerne County will conduct a pilot program in the Nov. 7 election, as 30 of the county's 186 voting districts will use a new electronic poll book system while the other districts use paper poll books.

County Manager Romilda Crocamo announced that policy at Tuesday's county council work session, eight weeks prior to Election Day.

Election officials had hoped to purchase a new electronic poll book system from one of two vendors who submitted proposals in July. The electronic poll books the county purchased in 2018 have reached the end of their service life, officials said.

However, there is not enough time to purchase a new poll book system, wait for it to be delivered and train election workers in the new system prior to the November election, Crocamo said.

"The turnaround time to do it for the general election was not going to happen," she said.

The election bureau reached out to other counties that had used similar pilot programs with success, Deputy Election Director Emily Cook said.

The bureau identified 30 polling sites that were likely to adapt well to the new technology, Cook said.

That will provide a good sample size to judge whether the new poll book system, supplied by KnowInk LLC, would be a good fit to use countywide next year, she said.

A controlled rollout of the new system is preferable to trying to introduce it to all voting districts at the same time, Cook said.

"Launching a full-scale election with brand-new equipment was not ideal," she said.

The trial run of the KnowInk poll book system will cost $17,080 and will be funded by an election integrity grant the election bureau received this year, Cook said.

According to the KnowInk website, the company's Poll Pad poll book system "is a secure Apple iPad application" that "provides a seamless electronic voter check-in."

Committees formed

In other business from council's voting session, council took the first step toward the formation of a committee that will suggest uses for the county's share of a state settlement with opioid manufacturers.

Council voted unanimously to introduce an ordinance that would create a seven-member committee on opioid misuse and addiction abatement.

Council will schedule a public hearing to take comment on the proposed ordinance, then vote whether to adopt it at a subsequent meeting.

The committee would consist of the district attorney, the director of the county drug and alcohol program, the human services division head, the correctional services division head, the county manager, one council member and one "Luzerne County citizen," the ordinance states.

The county is expected to receive about $25 million from the opioid settlement by the time the last payment is made in 2038, according to the county's 2022 audit.

Council also approved the formation of a committee to approve uses for Act 13 gas drilling impact fee funding.

The committee, formed at the urging of Councilman Brian Thornton, will consist of three council members selected by the council chairperson.

All Act 13 drilling impact fee funds will be deposited into a dedicated account and the committee will review all requested used for those funds.

That will "improve transparency with the public," Thornton said.

Also, Councilman Stephen J. Urban attended Tuesday's meeting, one day after he was charged with simple assault and evidence tampering in connection with an altercation outside his Kingston home last month.

Urban did not speak about the charges against him. Neither did any council member or any member of the public.

© 2023 The Citizens' Voice (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.