WATCH: GOP goes to court over York County election problems

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

Update: York County's election results could potentially be put off until Wednesday morning as the state's Republican Party readies to file an injunction to ensure the safety of uncounted ballots.

State GOP attorney Rebecca Warren announced the injunction in front of the York County Administrative Center at roughly 9 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 5. The goal, she said, was ensuring all of the county's uncounted ballots are safely transported and counted.

The GOP will file the injunction to York County Court of Common Pleas Judge Maria Musti Cook on Wednesday, Nov. 6. York County helped craft the injunction and agreed to ensure the safety and accuracy of the ballots, Warren said. 

The injunction will bring the voting machine issues — which stem from a lack of scanners and paper ballots that were the wrong size —  to the attention of the Department of State and York County Department of Elections and Voter Registration, Republicans argued.

While other counties reported similar issues, Warren said York County was the worst.

About 420 ballots in Fairview Township alone went uncounted earlier Tuesday because of problems with the new voting machines. 

Charlie O'Neill, PA GOP deputy executive director, said it is possible that results could be pushed back until Wednesday.

York County spokesman Mark Walters said county officials still planned to have preliminary election results Tuesday night, but he couldn't say for certain.

Reported earlier: A backlog of ballots waiting to be scanned and counted caused significant problems Tuesday night in several York County municipalities, according to Republican and Democratic party officials. 

The backlog, stemming from issues related to new voting machines employed for the first time Tuesday in York County, raised concerns in both parties about how results would be tallied. 

At Fairview Township's 3rd Precinct, a container holding an overflow of unscanned ballots got filled up and required the assistance of attorneys and poll workers to place into a locked bag to be counted later, potentially even Tuesday night, said Chad Baker, chairman of the York County Democratic Party.

"Next year is going to be significantly bigger," Baker said of the 2020 presidential election cycle. "I would advocate for more scanners."

In addition to a backlog of unscanned ballots, long lines and paper jams were among the issues voters found Tuesday at polling stations throughout York County, which officials blamed on new voting machines. 

"There's a lot of concern about the process here," said York County GOP Chairman Jeff Piccola. "Nobody's quite sure how they're going to be counted. It was not very thought out."

The new machines came about after former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein filed a lawsuit after the 2016 election alleging the state's voting system was not secure. 

Despite demonstrations and information provided to the public before the November election, many voters griped about the new system. Voters at a polling location in East Manchester Township faced wait times of up to 40 minutes, Baker said. 

"Quite frankly, it was a pain in the neck," said Jennie Walters, who waited in line for more than 10 minutes to vote at the Springfield Township Municipal Building. "It's a lot longer than I ever thought necessary."

Polling stations that experienced problems such as paper jams, ripped ballots and long lines included the Shrewsbury Township Municipal Building, Spry Church, the Emigsville Fire Hall and the Springfield Township Municipal Building.

Davonna Rickard, the inspector of elections at the Normandie Ridge voting location in West Manchester Township, said Tuesday afternoon that voting had been "nonstop" since polls opened because the process of casting a ballot had taken much longer than usual.

Rickard said her location only experienced minor issues after some voters incorrectly marked their voting sheets and had to fill out new ones. 

Additionally, because of longer lines, accommodations needed to be made for some elderly residents.                   

"It's definitely been a lot more difficult to make sure that everybody has the opportunity to successfully vote this year," Rickard said. 

More:York County looks for voting machine cash as Wolf, GOP squabble

Long lines didn't only affect the elderly, though.

Brittany Cramer, of Springfield, left the line without voting at the Springfield Township Municipal Building because of other commitments with her children. 

"I just have to go get my son from school, so that's really the only reason I left," Cramer said. "It's disappointing that it's taking longer, because I didn't plan for it."

Though some voters experienced no wait time to cast their ballots, other issues left them feeling disgruntled and frustrated. 

For Ronda Heilman, of Manchester, a torn ballot caused her extra time at the polls to re-cast her vote.

Heilman also said voting this year felt less private, as tables with cardboard dividers were set up allowing for up to four voters at once.

"People behind me got up and walked behind me to go cast their vote, so they were able to see anything I had laying there, which I thought was rather odd," she said.

Heilman took to Facebook to express her concerns about this year's voting, which garnered a mix of comments.

Some commentators described similar frustrations for privacy and lines, while others said it took them no time at all to cast ballots. 

Earlier Tuesday, Nikki Suchanic, York County's director of elections and voter registration, acknowledged the issues several polling stations faced. 

 "I think part of it is the transition to the new (voting) system," Suchanic said.

Around noon, Suchanic told The York Dispatch it was too early to determine voter turnout this election, adding that "there are definitely a lot of folks out there voting."

Suchanic could not be reached later Tuesday night.

In a statement, the York County Board of Commissioners acknowledged "delays or inconveniences" voters might have faced.  

"One machine per polling place was simply not enough to move smoothly," the release states. "The county also misjudged the time it would take to scan two ballot sheets per person. Ballots that were put in the machines’ emergency holding boxes will be scanned at the polling places by the election officials."

— Reach Tina Locurto at or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.