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Ballot width creates issues in some Bucks districts


Some Bucks County precincts encountered problems Tuesday when ballots turned out to be a “small fraction of an inch too wide” for the new scanners, according to county officials.

“At some polling places, the sides of the ballots were able to be trimmed slightly with paper cutters. Others were able to be pushed successfully into the scanners with slight pressure,” said a county press release. The number of precincts and ballots affected was not known, as of Wednesday morning.

Bucks officials said, all judges of elections were instructed to place any completed ballots that couldn’t be scanned properly into red emergency ballot bags. The ballots will then be fed into high-speed scanners at the Board of Elections office in Doylestown.

Diane Ellis-Marseglia, chair of the Bucks County Board of Commissioners and a member of the Board of Elections, which is comprised of the three-member commissioners’ board, expressed frustration about the problem.

“I am disappointed that voters had a difficult time today with our new ballot scanners, and I share their frustration and concern,” said Marseglia, in a statement.

She pledged that every vote cast will be counted, adding, “we will take corrective measures immediately to ensure this does not happen ever again.”

The ballots were supplied by Reliance Graphics, the printing vendor certified by Clear Ballot, which produced the voting system scanners, the county said.

Tuesday’s primary election was the first countywide use of the new Clear Ballot voting system, which produces a verifiable paper ballot of each vote cast.

Additionally, the primary is the first election in Pennsylvania to include expanded mail-in voting to all registered voters. More than 100,000 voters cast mail-in ballots in Bucks County, according to election officials.

Tuesday’s election also faced statewide challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing civil unrest over racial inequality and police brutality.

“In times of crisis, it is critical that we preserve our democracy and maintain faith in our government and institutions,” said PennPIRG, part of the Public Interest Network, in a statement.