York County making extra preparations ahead of primary election

David Weissman
York Dispatch
York Township's Ward 5, Precinct 3 is split into the 10th (red) and 11th (blue) congressional districts for the 2018 elections. (Photo courtesy of York County)

Ahead of its first election since a programming error caused confusion at the polls — and with a new congressional map to consider — York County's elections department has taken extra precautions.

The county's 2017 municipal election was marred by a technical oversight that allowed a single voter to cast multiple votes for a single candidate in certain races where more than one candidate was elected.

The county conducted an audit to determine the number of "over votes" and ended up certifying the original results without challenge, but a post-election report to the state detailed a lack of proper internal controls.

The same issue could not occur during the May 15 primary election since candidates are not allowed to cross-file — meaning they can't run on both the Republican and Democratic tickets in the same race — for any of the positions up for election.

More:York County details lack of internal controls in post-election report to state

More:York County officials say overvotes didn't affect election results, but numbers tell different story

Still, Nikki Suchanic, director of the county's elections department, said the county brought in officials from Dominion Voting, the manufacturer of York County's machines, to retrain employees on programming, help set up the machines and provide extra support.

Two Dominion officials also will be in the county for support on Election Day as they always are, Suchanic said.

The county's voting machines soon will be outdated because the state has directed all counties to replace their current systems with ones that have voter-verifiable paper records by the end of 2019, preferably in place before the November 2019 election.

More than $14 million in a mix of mostly federal and some state funding will be available to counties to purchase new machines.

Split district: Tuesday's election will provide another challenge for Suchanic's office as it will be the first in recent memory where the county is split into two congressional districts.

The state Supreme Court imposed a new map that joins the northern part of the county with part of Cumberland County and all of Dauphin County to create the 10th District, while the southern part of the county joins with Lancaster County to create the 11th District.

The new split will be particularly apparent, Suchanic said, in York Township's Ward 5, Precinct 3, where some voters will be in the 10th District and others in the 11th District.

York County Elections and Voter Registration Director Nikki Suchanic talks to poll workers about the card activator device during a training session at the Red Lion Area Senior Center in Red in 2015. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Suchanic said her department has put maps up on the county website (yorkcountypa.gov/voting-elections) showing the split, and anyone still confused about which district they fall under can call the county office at 717-771-9604.

The county will likely have extra staff at that precinct's polling place, Golden Connections Community Center (formerly Red Lion Area Senior Center), to help with any confusion, Suchanic said.

Poll workers on site will be able to find which district a voter belongs to by searching for their names in the poll books.

She noted that specific polling locations will need four different ballot layouts available: Republican in the 10th District, Democrat in the 10th District, Republican in the 11th District and Democrat in the 11th District.

Throughout York County, voters will be able to help decide 10 contested races, including seven Republican primaries and three Democratic. All polling places open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

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