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Board adjudicates ballots from primary election

Times Observer photo by Brian Ferry Members of the Warren County Board of Elections (from left) Ben Kafferlin and Tricia Durbin adjudicate ballots Friday morning with director of elections Lisa Rivett.

The Warren County Board of Elections started adjudicating votes Friday from Tuesday’s Primary Election.

The overwhelming majority of votes cast by 7,711 county voters were electronically tabulated from the paper ballots turned in by voters.

The board’s job was to deal with the rest.

Most of the votes the board members — county commissioners Ben Kafferlin, Tricia Durbin, and Jeff Eggleston — had to worry about were write-ins. The commissioners serve as the board when their positions are not up for election.

But, there were other situations to sort out, as well.

There were a number of damaged ballots. According to a representative of Dominion, the company that makes the voting machines, damaged ballots will not go through the scanner. The company takes precautions against efforts to cheat the system. “You can’t just photocopy these,” the representative said. Even slight damage will cause them to not scan.

After concerns regarding damaged ballots were raised on Tuesday, all ballots that had been duplicated by board members on Tuesday were pulled. Bar codes on the ballots allowed the board to tell the system to remove the results from those ballots.

On Friday, the board and Director of Elections Lisa Rivett looked over each one of those damaged ballots and tabulated the votes on them by hand.

Those totals will be added into the final results in the same way that other votes that cannot be read by the scanner are.

Rivett suggested that larger envelopes — both the inner, security envelopes, and the outer envelopes be used in the future. Many of the damaged ballots were cut during the opening process, she said.

The board dealt with some other issues.

Rivett brought up 20 ballots that were received in the mail on Wednesday and Thursday. Mail-in and absentee ballots (other that military absentee ballots, which are given more time) must be received in the office by 8 p.m. on Election Day to be counted.

Because they were late, the board did not count those ballots.

If those voters signed up for their ballots online, they will be notified by the Department of State that their votes did not count, Rivett said.

Eggleston suggested that the county contact the rest of those voters.

The board members rejected another group of ballots — mail-in ballots that arrived in envelopes that were not signed. There is a declaration line on the outside of the envelopes. Those signatures can be compared with signatures on file in Rivett’s office, like signatures in the voter books at the polls can be compared to signatures already in those books.

“I have information from the Department of State saying they are not to be counted,” Rivett said.

Ten provisional ballots were not filed properly by poll workers.

The board regretted having to disqualify those ballots, but “we don’t know which voter’s name is attached to which ballot,” Kafferlin said.

With no way to compare the provisional ballots with the mail-in ballots, it was possible those voters could have voted twice, if the provisional ballots were allowed, he said.

Three provisional ballots in cases where poll workers should have issued emergency ballots were accepted.

Ballots from three voters who insisted upon ballots for a party they were not registered in were rejected due to the laws associated with primary elections in Pennsylvania.

The board approved provisional ballots from 78 voters who requested mail-in or absentee ballots but did not return them.

Finally, the board worked its way through hundreds of write-in votes.

The scanner recognizes write-in votes and notes the presence of them, but does not evaluate them in any way.

Human eyes are required.

The board accepted votes for candidates of the opposite party. There were numerous Democratic ballots that had Donald Trump written in for president and some Republican ballots that had Joseph Biden written in.

Minor spelling errors — Gleen or Glen Thompson, for example — were accepted when the vote was otherwise appropriate to the race.

There were only a few votes for Mickey Mouse among the first hundred or so ballots with write-ins. They were not approved. Nor were votes for George Foreman, Anyone Else, and Doris Day.

One ballot featured a number of lesser party officials and candidates from European nations. Those were rejected.

There were 83 batches to be completed, with an unspecified number of ballots in each batch.

By noon, the board had completed 15 batches.

Rivett said the official results from the election will not be available for more than a week. “I can’t send the unofficial results until after Tuesday.”

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