York County to count double votes from Tuesday's municipal election

Jason Addy
York Dispatch

Two days after a technical oversight in York County’s voting machines delayed election results in multiple races, county officials believe they have found a way to determine the impact of that oversight. 

The oversight, discovered the day before the Tuesday, Nov. 7, municipal election, allowed a single voter to cast multiple votes for a single candidate in races where more than one candidate was elected. 

On Monday, Nov. 13, York County employees will begin combing through records from voting machines across the county, searching for instances in which candidates received more than one vote from a single voter, county spokesman Mark Walters said Thursday, Nov. 9. 

Determining how many “double votes” were cast will be the “first step toward certifying this election,” Walters said. 

“A quick turnaround is out of the window at this point,” but the counting process could be completed “some time next week” if the records can be checked electronically for double votes, Walters said. 

Election Day in York City, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

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Once the number of double votes is determined, the county will reassess its options for certifying the election with the Pennsylvania Department of State, Walters said. 

Walters said officials plan to recruit up to two dozen county employees in the administrative center. The county will try to avoid any appearance of conflicts of interest, Walters said, noting workers from the district attorney’s office will not be counting votes in the race for Court of Common Pleas judge. 

“We’re not concerned about a conflict of interest, but we’re avoiding where there might be a remote chance,” Walters said.

Candidates are identified by number on the voting records, so workers scanning through them will not know what candidates or races they are looking at, Walters said. 

Votes will appear as numbers in a grid, with workers looking for any races in which the same number appears more than once, Walters said.

To show the magnitude of the task to count double votes, Walters said that just one voting machine in Cross Roads produced 11 pages full of those voter grids. 

Election Day in York City, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

“I can’t imagine how many sheets are going to be in a bigger district,” Walters said.

The county's election board is scheduled to hold a public meeting at 9 a.m. Monday, Nov. 13, in the commissioners room on the second level of the county administration building at 28 E. Market St. in York City. 

Workers will be sworn in by the board at the start of that meeting to begin the count, Walters said.