EDITORIAL: Congratulation election winners, whoever you are

The Dispatch Editorial Board

You get what you pay for, York County.

Tuesday's election was an embarrassment, one that should frustrate every resident, taxpayer and voter. 

Long lines unquestionably suppressed the vote. Scanning machines shredded ballots. More than 400 votes in Fairview Township just sat for hours without being counted.

And, as of 11 a.m. Wednesday, York County officials still couldn't say how many precincts were reporting, necessary context for gauging the state of the races.

The news of the utter mess that was York County's 2019 municipal elections spread throughout the Pennsylvania.

Sure, other counties reported issues with new voting machines, the result of a settlement between the state and former Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein. 

State GOP attorney Rebecca Warren and GOP Deputy Executive Director Charlie O'Neill speak during a press conference at the York County Administrative Center on Election Day Tuesday, November 5, 2019. The Republican Party announced it's preparing to file an injunction to ensure the safety of uncounted ballots in with wake of irregularities with the state's new voting procedures. Bill Kalina photo

But York County's were downright heinous. So much so, in fact, that state GOP officials rushed their top attorneys to York City, where they blasted the process and, laughably, tried to pin the blame on Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf for his so-called unfunded mandate.

The blame, though, falls squarely at the feet of county officials, specifically York County commissioners.

The three-member board, two of whom are outgoing Republicans, dawdled for months when faced with the prospect of replacing outdated voting machines with more secure devices that leave paper trails of voters' intent.

If they had pinned their hopes on the Legislature, also run by Republicans, bailing them out, they were mistaken. 

They eventually spent $1.3 million on new voting machines when they had originally estimated the cost at between $6 million and $8 million to replace 700 machines.

The commissioners issued a statement shortly after polls closed, offering "sincerest apologies to all of the voters across the county’s 159 polling locations who experienced delays or inconveniences when voting ..."

"One machine per polling place was simply not enough to move smoothly," it continued. "The county also misjudged the time it would take to scan two ballot sheets per person.

County commissioners have no choice but to cough up more cash for more machines — before the Jan. 14 special election the 48th State Senate seat and certainly ahead of the 2020 presidential election, which is bound to see substantially higher turnout than Tuesday's municipal election.

A failure to do so would be a dereliction of duty. 

One can't help but pity county elections czar Nikki Suchanic and her team of staff and volunteers. They will have to answer for Tuesday's disastrous election, one undermined by miserly elected officials.

Running an election is a fundamental duty of government. And York County can't even pull that off. 

It's not the first time York County's dysfunction brought it unwanted attention.

For instance, earlier this year the county walked back a mail policy at its jail that assaulted inmates' constitutional rights — the only instance in the state where a local government adopted the state's ridiculous overreaction to drugs.

But it only did so under threat of a lawsuit and after the state Department of Corrections ended its practice of the photocopying and storing legal mail.

On top of that, the issues at the 911 center have been a years' long dumpster fire, which officials couldn't work up the will to douse. 

Tuesday laid bare yet again a county that's poorly managed, one run by elected officials seemingly disinterested in their duties.

Yet again, York County made the news throughout Pennsylvania. And every single resident should be incensed.