Wayne makes change for upcoming election

HONESDALE, PA — Despite Donald Trump’s talk of rigging at the polls, Wayne County isn’t expecting any controversy on Election Day, and officials took one step on October 27 to make sure.


The county commissioners, meeting as the county board of elections, decided that unlike the practice in past elections, all absentee ballots this time will go directly to Honesdale unopened, to be tallied there.


Commissioner Wendell Kay, who chairs the election board, said the decision was based on the larger-than-normal number of absentee ballots expected for this election. Wayne’s largest district, in Lake Township, has more than 200 and there will probably be more, Kay said. With the surge in new registrations reported earlier this year, he expects similar growth in absentees around the county. “It’s a minor change but it will help facilitate the process,” he said.


If absentee voters’ plans change, they can come in and vote normally. Their pre-filed ballots are then voided and not counted, he said.


Kay said there is no likelihood of anyone hacking the county’s votes, since Wayne uses paper ballots and the Internet isn’t used anywhere in the local process, only to send the results to Harrisburg.


Local district tabulation is low-tech. “Three districts tabulate, but their results are sent via a direct line. They go through a box-like machine. It’s like a toaster, you just plug it in. We get their printout on an old dot-matrix printer,” he said.


Kay said he’s heard little about rigging. There have been what he called the “typical questions, based on misinformation.”


He said one elected official asked if it were true that no one over 70 would be allowed to vote, based, he felt, on a ballot question about a mandatory retirement for members of the judiciary when they reach age 70. “Of course, it wasn’t true,” he said.


Someone else asked if the county protected ballots security by using helicopters to fly the results to Honesdale. “No. No helicopters.”


There have also been concerns about unauthorized poll watchers, who it was feared could intimidate voters. Kay said candidates and party chairs may call for poll watchers, “but we’ve had no requests, as far as we know.”


Polls in Pennsylvania open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. Registered voters who are in line at 8 p.m. will be allowed to vote.


In their brief regular weekly meeting, the commissioners heard three proposals for funding from the new Community Development Block Grant pool of $194,000.


Proposals came from Dyberry Township, and Hawley and Starrucca boroughs.


For a Wayne proposal, the county has hired consultant Marvin Brotter, who also advises Pike County. They are considering the use of funding for individual housing redevelopment allowing up to $27,000 for up to four units.  


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