York County's new elections director starts work Friday. Officials still haven't identified him

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

York County is expected to name its new director of elections Friday, only days before a special election to fill a vacant state Senate seat.

Officials have been teasing the announcement of a new elections director for a week, first saying the director would be named on Jan. 3. Announcements also were expected on Monday and Thursday.

County spokesman Mark Walters said Thursday the new board of commissioners is still getting acclimated to the office and taking care of administrative tasks, so the approval of the announcement has been delayed.

"The guy’s hired and he’s starting tomorrow, but in terms of reviewing the press release, it’s just not been approved as quickly as it ordinarily would be," Walters said.

The three York County commissioners — Doug Hoke, Julie Wheeler and Ron Smith — were sworn in Monday, Jan. 6. Smith and Wheeler are in their first term.

Information about the new election director's background and experience will be included in the news release Friday, Walters said.

Hoke said he's optimistic about this year's presidential election running smoothly under the new director.

"He’s energetic and he’s really excited about improving the elections process in York County," Hoke said.

The new director will have a busy year ahead of him.

Before the April 28 presidential primary, he'll oversee the Jan. 14 special election to fill the state's 48th Senate District, left vacant after former Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, was arrested in September and charged with possessing child pornography. The special election will include a portion of York County's voting precincts. 

Folmer resigned after the arrest.

Election Day at Commonwealth Fire Co. #1 in Springettsbury Township, Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. Dawn J. Sagert photo

After the special election, the department's new leader will oversee the presidential primary and then the general election Nov. 3.

"It certainly heightens the profile and it’s going to be a busier year than a typical year, but you can’t plan for that," Walters said about the timing. "When a position becomes vacant, it needs filled."

Former elections director Nikki Suchanic announced her resignation in November, citing personal reasons. Her last day was Jan. 3.

The stakes are high for York County's 2020 elections, and not only because of the national offices on the ballot.

The county introduced its new paper ballot voting machines in the Nov. 5, 2019, municipal election, and while every vote was ultimately counted, it took two days to announce the results.

With only one ballot scanner at each polling place, some voters waited in long lines and others had trouble figuring out how to use the scanners.

There were also issues with some machines not working properly and with ballots printed on the wrong size paper that later had to be recounted by hand.

One thing that could help ease congestion is the addition of 23 new voting districts, which are set to be in place in time for the April 28 primary.

Officials haven't said yet how many machines will be at each polling place.

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