York GOP details voting machine issue in Red Lion

David Weissman
  • Local GOP officials received reports of a voting machine switching votes in Red Lion.
  • By time an attorney arrived, the machine had been taken out of service.
  • State GOP has heard similar reports at other counties throughout Pennsylvania.

The York County Republican Committee investigated reports that a voting machine in Red Lion had been switching Republican votes to Democratic candidates.

Voters line up outside the Dover Township Fire Department polling site, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016. John A. Pavoncello photo

Attorney Joe Gothie, who is working for the committee on election issues, said he received reports of a faulty machine about 4:40 p.m. Tuesday, but the machine had been taken out of service by the time he arrived at the polling place just before 6 p.m.

Republican Chairman Alex Shorb said Tuesday afternoon that he didn't think it was time to fret, but he wanted to make sure voters double- and triple-check their ballots before casting their vote.

"What we're hearing is some people selected straight Republican tickets, and when they go to review their votes, it's showing that they voted straight Democratic tickets," he said.

Shorb said the reports were coming from the borough's third ward, at the Red Lion Recreation Center, and the party's main concern was that the potentially faulty machine might have been kept in service after the issue was first reported.

Gothie said he wasn't able to enter the center to talk to election officials, but he heard from several voters exiting the polls that the machine had been taken out of service. He said he was comfortable relying on that second-hand information.

"It would be nice if the machines didn't do this," Gothie said, "but I don't think anything nefarious is going on. No system is perfect. Nobody is freaking out about this."

In addition to sending Gothie to the polling place, the local party notified the state's Republican Party legal counsel and the York County Department of Elections, Shorb said.

Alex Shorb

Nikki Suchanic, the county's elections director, said she received a few calls about machines switching votes, but department officials could not reproduce any of the voting malfunctions.

"To be honest, this subject comes up every four years, every presidential election," Suchanic said, noting that the machine in Red Lion was taken offline but was back up and running shortly after.

Chad Baker, chairman of the Democratic Party of York County, said he hadn't heard about the issue but was receiving many complaints about long lines.

Shorb said the state's Republican Party has received similar reports of faulty machines in other counties throughout the state.

Gothie said he could look further into the issue at Red Lion down the road, but only if a race is decided by a razor-thin margin.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump previously claimed at a rally that the only way he would lose Pennsylvania is if cheating occurs. The state has voted for the Democratic president candidate the past six elections.

Governors, presidents and how we vote

Shorb said he'd be surprised if the winner of the race is confirmed by the end of the night, and he advised that both Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton should be positive the results are accurate before conceding.

Staff reporter Jason Addy contributed to this report.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter @DispatchDavid.