Updates essential if citizens want to be sure that their votes are counted, election official says.

Last updated: March 31. 2013 11:28PM - 3649 Views
By - jandes@civitasmedia.com - (570) 991-6388

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Luzerne County Election Director Marisa Crispell-Barber is urging residents to update their voter registrations if they move to ensure their votes are counted.

Votes cast by 75 people were not counted in the November general election because they used paper provisional ballots in precincts that didn’t match their registrations, Crispell-Barber said.

Twenty-five of these voters were registered in other counties.

The county election board has received some criticism for rejecting the provisional votes of people who were registered but appeared at the wrong precincts, particularly votes for the president that would have been on ballot regardless of the location.

Crispell-Barber said the law allows the board to reject provisional votes if there’s evidence the voters knowingly cast ballots where they are not registered.

For example, one of the rejected provisional votes was cast by a man who had most recently registered to vote in Nanticoke, and a voter identification card mailed to his listed Nanticoke address in July 2012 was never returned or reported as incorrect. However, the voter appeared at a Wilkes-Barre voting precinct in November, saying he lived there and had changed his registration to a North Washington Street address. The voter had changed addresses on his voter registration three times in the past, but never for a North Washington Street location, she said.

“People can’t just vote anywhere,” Crispell-Barber said.

She said she randomly checked registrations of five people who stated conflicting addresses on their provisional ballots, and they still have not changed their registrations to match the addresses they listed as current.

Voters have until April 22 to change addresses on their registration for the May 21 primary, she said. The forms are available on the election department’s page of the county website, www.luzernecounty.org, or by requesting one from the election office at 825-1715.

Voters who move may vote at their old precinct one last time and must complete an affirmation indicating their new address, which will alert the election office to change the address and issue a new registration card to be used in the next election, she said.

Addresses for voter registration also can be changed when people update their drivers’ licenses, she said.

Voters can call the election office if they want to verify their registered addresses and voting precincts, she said.

Crispell-Barber said provisional votes were counted if the county election office made an error or when voters appeared at the wrong location because two voting precincts were located in the same building.

A record number of provisional ballots — 330 — were cast in the November 2012 general. The highest previous provisional count was 20 ballots in the 2008 presidential election.

The votes cast in 47 of the 330 provisionals were counted.

The remaining 283 ballots were not counted because:

* 202 individuals were not registered to vote anywhere in Pennsylvania

* 25 registered in other counties

* 3 registered to vote after the deadline

* 3 had incorrectly completed provisional ballot envelopes

* 50 did not vote in the precinct listed on their voter registrations

Crispell-Barber said some of the 50 in the last category also had issues with improperly completed ballot envelopes.

Poll workers will receive more training on the issuing of provisional ballots and how to assist voters in properly completing the ballot envelopes, she said. Roving voting machine workers will be trained to help poll workers attempting to verify registrations of voters who are not listed in poll books. Poll workers also will be instructed to set up a separate processing area so voters encountering registration issues are not embarrassed delaying other voters in line.

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