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Monroe County, Pa., Voters Voice Concern Over Elections Tech

Last week’s municipal election saw the premier of the new ClearCast scanners, paper ballots and other changes in voting technology in Monroe County and other areas across the state and nation.

(TNS) — The ballots are in, the votes are counted, and the consensus is...there are still a few kinks to iron out before the next election.

Last week's municipal election saw the premier of the new ClearCast scanners, paper ballots and other changes in voting technology in Monroe County, Pa., and other areas across the state and nation.

Gone are the electronic screens of the past, replaced with paper ballots and scanning devices meant to ensure the safety and security of citizens' votes. Voters could simply fill in bubble next to the name of the candidate they wished to vote for, and once they completed the ballot, they fed it into the scanners, which checked for errors, asked for final approval and deposited the slip into a secure box.

At least that was the idea.

According to a Pocono Record poll, about 70% of voters were able to vote on Election Day without any issues. But when it came to the rest, several concerns tended to pop up rather frequently.

Privacy was a paramount issue according to numerous citizens. In several locations, voters noted that "flimsy, moveable dividers" offered no semblance of solitude.

"Privacy was an issue. There wasn't any," Vicki Hricak Roth said.

"Less privacy and too many people allowed in the voting area at a time!" Heather Homay Adams said.

"Now you have to sit at a table with some dividers on the table, but anyone can come up behind you and look at what you are doing," Kathy Sadowski said.

On Tuesday, Representative Rosemary Brown (R-180) said that poll workers had not received enough training in regard to protecting voting privacy.

Several voters noted that that scanners stopped working at certain polling locations, at least temporarily.

"The machine didn't work and the worker had to flip my paper over multiple times," Chrissy Caiazzo-Pritchard said.

Some citizens noted having an issue with feeding their ballot into the scanners, though there were no reports of anyone having their ballot rejected.

Monroe County director of elections and voter registration Sara May-Silfee clarified that the reason behind the scanner issues was rooted in some of the paper ballots, which had been incorrectly cut.

"They were just a hair too wide, and they weren't necessarily feeding through, or they were feeding through and jamming because they were too wide," May-Silfee said.

May-Silfee said that the issue was addressed as soon as her office was made aware of it, and emphasized that numerous other counties experience similar issues.

Several voters expressed concerns that paper ballots were a step backward, and a potential safety concern due to the aforementioned privacy issues.

"Welcome back to the stone age," John Wolfe said. "I don't want ANYONE to have access to my ballot."

Others expressed that they found paper ballots to be more secure, as they would provide a "paper trail" that could not be hacked or altered.

May-Silfee did note that there were paper backups available at each polling location in Monroe County, so the potential for compromised votes was low to nonexistent.

Going forward, May-Silfee's office is taking note of any comments and concerns, and she said that most of the issues should be ironed out in time for the next election.

"Next year is a whole different ballgame," May-Silfee said. "My plan will be totally different for everything for the presidential election. There will be additional scanners, and there will be extra places to sit and vote. The privacy thing, I'm going to look to put something near the scanner."

©2019 the Pocono Record, Stroudsburg, Pa. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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