After chaotic election, York County slams GOP election night complaints
Election Day results were still incomplete Wednesday afternoon as York County officials said the state GOP's gripes about voting issues were nothing but partisan grandstanding aimed at taking shots at Gov. Tom Wolf.
The statements came the same day the county reached a settlement with Republican officials about how to count leftover ballots that weren't attended to Tuesday night because long lines caused a backlog. County officials as of 3:30 p.m. Wednesday still did not know when full results would be released.
On Tuesday night, state GOP attorneys announced they intended to file an injunction, saying the county's issues "revealed a complete breakdown of lawful election process, as well as unprecedented and unlawful actions by the Board of Elections and Department of State."
"This was completely grandstanding — 100% political posturing to make a point and shove it in the governor's face," said county spokesman Mark Walters after a county commissioners' meeting Wednesday morning.
Outgoing York County President Commissioner Susan Byrnes, a Republican, said she was offended by the party's characterization of the county's election process.
Chaotic: The GOP's gripes followed a chaotic voting day throughout the county.
A shortage of ballot-counting scanners caused long lines, incorrect paper ballot sizes resulted in some ballots getting torn, and many voters didn't know how to use the new machines, officials have said.
Results didn't begin to come in until 10:30 p.m. Tuesday night. And county officials couldn't say Wednesday morning whether the state's counts showing 84% of precincts reporting were accurate.
As of Wednesday afternoon, ballots were still being counted — 126,849 ballots had been recorded at the time — and it was unknown when full results would be available. Results hadn't been updated since 3:40 a.m.
That morning, lines of secure blue bags containing counted ballots from each of the county's 159 precincts sat in the York County Elections and Voter Registration office.
Settlement: However, two precincts, Fairview 3 and Newberry 3, were part of the Wednesday settlement between the county and state Republicans that averted an injunction filing.
The settlement required the uncounted ballots in those precincts to be safely transported to the county elections office. Ballots for Fairview's 3rd precinct were counted using a scanner, and Newberry's 3rd precinct were counted by hand because they were the wrong type of paper.
Numerous candidates held off Tuesday night and Wednesday on commenting about their apparent victories because of the widespread chaos.
"I'm so confused," said York County Vice President Commissioner Doug Hoke on Wednesday morning after he asked whether the full results had come in.
Confusion was worsened when a glitch in the county's system left it outputting that zero precincts were reporting, even though more than 100,000 ballots had been counted.
Wolf order: Wolf last year signed an executive order forcing counties to implement voting machines with a verifiable paper trail. Republicans have referred to the move as an "unfunded mandate" that disenfranchised voters by causing inconvenience at the polls.
State Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill, R-York Township, said in a Wednesday Facebook video that Wolf put the county on a "crash course" culminating in York County's troublesome election.
However, state and federal funding has covered roughly 60% of the $1.4 million price tag to purchase machines from Dominion Voting Systems, said York County Solicitor Michèlle Pokrifka.
The initial cost estimate surpassed $6 million for the machines, which outgoing Commissioner Chris Reilly said was an inflated number that didn't account for state and federal aid.
The county will likely have to buy more scanners for the more populated polling locations, Reilly said. The upgrades will likely come at a "minimal cost," he added, but he was unable to provide a cost estimate.
Wolf spokesman JJ Abbott on Wednesday defended the new machines, asserting they are necessary to protect elections. The Democratic Party of York County offered a similar sentiment.
County officials made it clear Wednesday that they should have anticipated buying more scanners in busier precincts and that there will be discussions with the Wolf administration and legislators going forward to ensure a smooth 2020 presidential election.
"This whole election process has to be totally evaluated and reviewed," Hoke said. "A proper decision needs to be made to make sure there are not hiccups in next year's presidential election."
— Logan Hullinger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.