Voter Services

TTDEMS Chair Dariel Jamieson Offers Comment on Special Election Ballot Hand-Counting

Dariel Jamieson, chair of the Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee, provided a comment to Community Matters. Jamieson’s remarks speak directly to the hand count by Chester County Department of Voter Services on Monday of the Special Election ballots. Her remarks provide us with further details of the recounting process and I thought it important to provide them in this post (see below).

In her remarks, Jamieson brings up an interesting point – it certainly would have helped if Voter Services had run the ballots through a voting machine prior to the hand count. I would think that if Voter Services could duplicate the machine malfunction error, there would be a greater probability of correcting the problem! Echoing a question that another CM reader posed, what were the candidates told by Voter Services as the ‘reason’ for the 61 uncounted votes.

[Subsequent to this post, Dariel Jamieson has provided an official press release from the TTDEMS, click here to read.  According to Jamieson’s information, over 100 of the 223 precincts in Chester County have not reported voting irregularities.  In my opinion, there should be a complete internal examination of systems and procedures at the Department of Voter Services.]

In reading between-the-lines of Jamieson’s remarks, is there a sense that the end of the story may not yet be told?

Comment from Dariel Jamieson, Chair, Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee

I have been told by our witnesses that there was NOT a machine count of the Tredyffrin votes prior to the full manual recount. We believe Voter Services acted with good intentions, thinking it would be helpful to speed resolution of the special election by going right to a manual count. While this did speed things up, I personally believe that a machine count first might have shed some light on how and why the machines might have been malfunctioning.

Voter Services also told our witnesses that there was no way to know for sure that all the uncounted ballots were Republican, although seeing the outcome of counting them Makes it look like they were. We were told that all the ballots that were accepted into the machines end up in the same compartment, so it could not definitively be said which ones were counted and which were not. If something was wrong with only Republican ballots, why did they not all reject?

A reconciliation of the number of ballots that were counted in the manual count has not yet been reconciled to the number of signatures in the sign in sheets and names in the poll books. Voter Services has said that those kinds of reconciliations will be done after all the precincts in the County have gone through the official count process. If those numbers all match, then one could conclude that the number of physical ballots that were manually counted was the correct number of ballots. If they should not match, one would have to ask where the additional ballots came from.

Speculation that putting the ballots in face up, face down, backward, or with poor tears of the perforation could all be possible, but that seems incompatible with the idea that all the unread ballots were Republican.

And adding 61 ballots to the mix will almost certainly change the totals in the other races, bur probably not enough to change any primary election vote outcomes.

We, too, are waiting for answers.

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Heaberg Claims Victory in Special Election but Questions Remain For Chester County Voter Services

Late last night I received a press release from Mike Heaberg (see below) that declares his victory in the Special Election.

Both political parties appear to be satisfied with the special election ballot hand counting on Monday by Chester County Department of Voter Services.  The recounting process uncovered 61 ballots that were not originally counted, adding 52 additional votes to Republican Mike Heaberg and 9 additional votes to Democratic Molly Duffy totals. The original vote count had favored Duffy by 40 votes, but with the additional votes, the final vote count was Duffy, 2,275 votes and Heaberg, 2,278; a difference of only 3 votes, in favor of Heaberg.

We now know that all 61 ballots belonged to registered Republican voters, leading to many questions.  It is understood that the actual ballots of the Republican, Democratic and Independent voters are printed differently.  The only thing that makes any sense is that there appears the problem may have been a printing or alignment issues on the Republican voter’s ballots.  I have also learned that the problem was not at only 12 of the 17 precincts as I previously wrote, but actually occurred at virtually every precinct.

Therefore, if we assume that there were mechanical issues with Republican ballots, printing or otherwise, I still find myself struggling with several issues and maybe someone can help me.  After the polls closed on election day, I assume that there is a certain procedure that takes place, i.e. tallying the votes, posting the results at the precincts, delivery of materials to Voter Services, etc. As part of this procedure, each precinct must have an individual responsible for ‘signing-off’ on the accuracy of the vote count, correct? So did these individuals sign-off on the results?  Did they report the inaccuracies to Voter Services when they delivered the materials that evening? I am curious how the actual procedure works — maybe Steve Shapiro as Judge of Elections for W-2 precinct could help us understand the procedure.

I understand that Voter Services was aware made aware of various issues, including malfunctioning machines, during the course of Election Day. If Voter Services knew there were problems and that the vote count was inaccurate, why would they bother to post the precinct vote count and the final totals on their website?  Would it not be more appropriate for them to make a statement concerning the problem and that they were working to correct the discrepancies? 

The issues surrounding the special election – the malfunctioning voting machines, the uncounted 61 votes, inaccurate reporting of ballot results, etc. are  unsettling and troubling; and I look to Voter Services for answers and accountability.  Not only about what exactly went wrong but also how they intend to correct these problems in advance of the general election in November. At a minimum, I suggest an internal examination of Voter Service procedures.  Should the County Commissioners investigate?

Heaberg Wins Special Election
Thanks People of Tredyffrin, Chester County Voter Services

Tredyffrin Supervisor Michael Heaberg today released the following statement regarding the results of the Special Election held on Tuesday, May 17th:

“In light of the hand count of all votes in this race by Chester County Voter Services in the presence of representatives from both campaigns, and with the results of that count showing my campaign to have won, I want to thank the voters of Tredyffrin for their support and all of the people who worked so hard in this campaign to make this victory a reality.”

“I look forward to representing the concerns of all Tredyffrin residents and addressing issues of importance to all, just as I have as an interim Supervisor. I ran on a platform of continuing fiscally responsible government that meets the needs of residents and protects our quality of life, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and continue a successful track-record for the people of Tredyffrin.”

“While the special election is now over, I look forward to continuing to meet with and talk to the people of Tredyffrin as I seek their support for a full term as Supervisor.”

“I also wish to join with the leaders of the Democratic Party of Tredyffrin who expressed their confidence in Voter Services’ ability to come to an accurate and reliable tabulation. I thank the professionals there who took the time to investigate reports of voting machine issues on election day and put in the effort to ensure a result in which all residents can have confidence.”

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