CLEARFIELD – The Nov. 8 General Election is less than one week out. It’s expected to be an emotionally-charged election with heavy voter turnout due to the heightened interest in the presidential race.
“It’s a good thing,” said Commissioner John A. Sobel, chair. “But because there’s a lot of interest, there’s a lot of information being generated in conversation, online and on Facebook.
“Our Elections Office has already been taking calls from the general public. Some information out there has been very, very good and some of it has been very, very bad.”
As a result, the commissioners had Dawn Graham, the county’s elections director, review election-related policies and procedures, as well as dismiss any circulating misinformation at Tuesday’s workshop meeting. She reminded registered voters that:
- Voters are not allowed to have a paper ballot in Clearfield County. The county’s approved voting method is electronic.
- Voting machines are secure. She said prior to the election, staff members test every voting machine, ensure there aren’t any votes on them and that everything is in working order. If there are any issues, the affected voting machines are pulled and replaced with new ones. Once testing has been completed, voting machines are secured and not accessed again until delivered Monday.
- Voting machines are not connected to the Internet and do not have any WiFi capabilities. She said they are a direct recording machine, so there isn’t any way for them to be hacked via the Internet or other means.
- Any voted absentee ballots must be in the Elections Office by 5 p.m. Friday. However, if any are received between the deadline and the close of polls at 8 p.m. Election Day, staff members will count votes for the race of president and vice president only.
- Voters only need to present identification when voting for the first time in their precinct. She said that acceptable forms of identification can be a driver’s license, voter ID card, pistol permit, etc., and sometimes a phone or electric bill can be used with current address and name.
- Election rules and laws in effect in other states do not necessarily apply in Pennsylvania. Every state administers its own elections, she said, so for example, what goes in North Carolina may not go in Pennsylvania.
- Passive electioneering is permitted and voters can wear shirts, hats, pins and campaign paraphernalia to vote. However, they cannot actively electioneer within the polling place at all.
- Poll watchers can be requested by a political body or candidate and must be registered voters of Clearfield County. Names must be submitted to the Elections Office and poll watchers will be issued certificates, which they must have to be admitted into the polls. Poll watchers are not permitted to wear any type of political campaign paraphernalia and must be seated a part from the poll workers and voting machines.
Commissioner Tony Scotto reminded voters of the review screen that appears before they confirm and cast their ballots. Graham concurred, noting before voters press confirm, they can always go back and seek any assistance, if necessary, from poll workers.
“If a voter is trying to vote for a candidate and their name is not lighting up, they should immediately get the Judge of Election because the machine may need calibrated. They will either move you to another machine or get it calibrated,” added Commissioner Mark B. McCracken.
McCracken also suggested that voters utilize the voting machine’s attached stylist versus their finger to complete the electronic ballot.
Any complaints or issues should be reported to the county’s Elections Board on Election Day. “Not a day or a week later,” Graham said. “If there’s an issue, we can probably correct it, but we can’t if it’s a week later.”
If the number of returned absentee ballots is any indication, she said voter turnout will be very high Election Day. She said prior to the workshop meeting, the Elections Office had already received more than 1,600 absentees and it didn’t include any ballots returned Tuesday.
Graham asked voters to be patient with lines expected to be long at polling places throughout the county. Anyone who is uncertain of the status of their voter registration is urged to check with the Elections Office prior to Election Day. Voters can also check on the VotesPA Web site.
“There’s going to be a big turnout,” McCracken said. “It’s certainly been an emotionally-charged election on both sides … but our expectation is as it always has been in the past, Clearfield County voters will come out to vote and will do it legally and lawfully. They will let their voices be heard.”
To that, Graham added the county has “excellent” Elections staff members who are very conscientious, and every election is important to them. “We do our jobs consistently, fairly and everything is secure,” she said.
Solicitor Kim Kesner advised voters that at every polling place, its Judge of Elections is the authority of its operations Election Day as provided in Pennsylvania law. The county’s Board of Elections provides administrative assistance, supplies, advice, etc.
“But the final arbiter of what happens at any poll is up to the Judge of Elections,” he said. “It’s important for people to understand that and recognize that the person is trained, has knowledge of the law and may be called upon to implement what the law is within the poll. That person needs to be recognized as the authority and respected.”
Finally, Graham emphasized to voters not to “believe everything they read on the Internet.” Any voter with questions or concerns regarding the election is asked to please contact the Elections Office at 814-765-2642, Ext: 5053.