Despite some issues at polling places, Pennsylvania’s primary election was relatively “quiet” Tuesday afternoon.
Polls close at 8 p.m. in the races for governor and the U.S. Senate. The biggest problem that has been reported thus far was understaffed polling places, especially in the northeast portion of the state, said Lauren Cristella, the chief program officer at the nonpartisan Committee of Seventy, a good government watchdog group.
That issue was most prevalent in the morning and caused a delay in people being able to vote, Cristella said. In spite of that issue and some others, “It has been phenomenally quiet,” in terms of complaints about voting irregularities, she noted.
In Berks County, poll workers had to issue back-up paper ballots due to “an issue impacting the new electronic pollbooks,” county spokeswoman Stephanie Weaver said in an email. Weaver said the details behind the unspecified electronic pollbook issue would be revealed after Election Day and that a “detailed explanation will be provided at that time.”
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As a result, a judge ruled that polls stay open until 9 p.m., an hour later than when polls are scheduled to close, Weaver said. The ruling was made after an appeal by lawyers for both parties, she noted. Weaver added, however, that ballot drop boxes will still close by 8 p.m.
In Philadelphia, the District Attorney’s Office’s Election Task Force tweeted that it had received “a mere” 10 reports of voter irregularities – mainly electioneering – as of around 1 p.m. Cristella said electioneering could involve something as simple as someone standing too close to where other people are voting. The task force asked that people report irregularities by dialing 215-686-9641.
In a political environment supercharged by disproven conspiracy theories about widespread voter fraud, Cristella reminded people that problems at polling places are not uncommon.
Coverage of the 2022 elections
“It’s a big, complex, people-driven, particular, process-focused endeavor and things come up, things happen,” Cristella said in regard to how elections function.
There are systems in place to address voter irregularities, she said, even if it takes some time to do so.
Cristella also encouraged people to sign up to be poll workers because, she said, a dearth of workers is what commonly leads to voting problems.
Despite some issues at polling places, Pennsylvania’s primary election was relatively “quiet" in terms of problems affecting voters, a good government watchdog group official said Tuesday.