Berks County Having Issues With New Electronic Poll Books

Signs point the way for voters to cast their ballots at the polling location for the Pennsylvania primary election, Tuesday, May 17, 2022, in Harmony, Pa., (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

By Ashley Adams

May 17, 2022

State Rep. Manny Guzman said he faced delays due to poll workers not properly trained on the new machines

Election officials in Berks County said there are problems with new electronic poll books, prompting the county to use paper ballots as a back-up on Pennsylvania’s primary election day.

A news release from state Rep. Manny Guzman (D-Berks) urged voters to be patient and prepare for potential problems at the polls. He personally experienced substantial delays due to poll workers not being properly trained on the new machines.

 “When I went to cast my ballot today, what should have been a quick, simple process turned into a multi-hour ordeal,” Guzman said. “A simple mistake took more than an hour and the personal intervention of the county election director to fix. Workers were not trained on the new voting machines and the county provided no paper ballots to backup any potential problems – in fact ballots are only being distributed today, hours after the polls opened.”

Guzman contacted the County Election Board, local election attorneys and the Department of State to mobilize every resource possible to get voters help to be heard.

Officials said paper poll books are being distributed throughout the county.

This is the first election that all county precincts were to use the electronic poll books.

The electronic poll books are updated in real time on a closed system and resemble a tablet computer. They are loaded with the full list of registered voters for a particular precinct and were to replace the paper rosters of registered voters at each precinct.

The county tested the books at five voting locations last fall.

“I’m not worried about me,” Guzman said. “I’m worried about the voter making time to be heard who has to get to work or has to get their kids to school. People don’t have time to throw away on dealing with the failures of the county election officials who didn’t make sure the poll workers knew how to operate the voting machines. The idea we might have people walk away from their right to be heard is unacceptable. It’s voter suppression through incompetence at the top.”

Guzman plans to call for public hearings and investigations to be sure the county is ready for November’s general election.

It was unclear if any other county in the commonwealth was having any trouble with the new machines.

Author

  • Ashley Adams

    In her 16 years in the communications industry, Ashley Adams has worn many hats, including news reporter, public relations writer, marketing specialist, copy editor and technical writer. Ashley grew up in Berks County and has since returned to her roots to raise her three children.

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