WILKES-BARRE – In an emergency hearing late Wednesday, two Luzerne County judges said the primary election results in the Pittston district judge race would be preserved at the request of one of the candidates.
Candidate Alexandra Kokura filed an emergency petition to preserve the results until today’s official canvassing, citing the small margin of votes in which she won over fellow candidate, James “Red” O’Brien.
Kokura, of Dupont, received 1,365 Democratic votes while O’Brien, of Pittston, received 1,357 democratic votes.
“This motion is brought to preserve and ensure the integrity of the results from the 2013 primary municipal election … in light of the unofficial count for the Democratic nomination,” Kokura’s request said.
The preservation, according to Kokura’s filing, includes all unofficial results, all absentee ballots and any provisional ballots, as well as computer equipment, hardware, software and electronic data “to protect the public interest” until Friday’s official canvassing, scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.
After a hearing late Wednesday, county Judge Joseph Sklarosky Jr. and county President Judge Thomas Burke granted Kokura’s request. The judges’ one-page order cites that the county Board of Elections did not oppose Kokura’s request.
Election bureau solicitor Michael Butera did not return a message seeking comment Thursday.
Election Bureau Director Marisa Crispell-Barber said Thursday preserving election results between the time the polls closed Tuesday night and today’s canvassing is something her office already does.
Crispell-Barber said the flash drives are removed from all of the county’s iVotronic electronic voting machines and placed in protective bags along with the Personal Electronic Ballot cartridges that are placed in and activate the machines each time someone votes. The bags are then sealed with plastic seals.
The doors of the voting machines are also sealed shut with plastic seals, Crispell-Barber said.
The serial numbers of those seals are recorded on certificates along with the serial numbers of the voting machines on Election night and the seals are checked against the certificates before they are broken for canvassing.
The bags containing the flash drives and PEB cartridges and the provisional and absentee ballots are all locked in the county council room until the canvassing. The flash drives contain the actual vote counts that are downloaded to them from the iVotronic machines. The machines also have internal memory boards that retain the voting information until it is deleted from them.
Crispell-Barber said the iVotronic machines were still being collected from polling places.
She said the flash drives are removed from the machines and transported to the courthouse on Election night because someone could easily break a seal on a machine and cast votes on it between Election night and canvassing day if the flash drive was left inside.
O’Brien could not be reached for comment Thursday. He said in a recent interview that he will wait for the county’s official vote count before considering if a recount is necessary.
Kokura is represented by two attorneys in the matter, Daniel Brier and her husband, Nicholas Kravitz, of the Myers, Brier & Kelly law firm in Scranton.
Sunday Dispatch reporter Joe Healey contributed to this report.