Long Lines, Minor Problems Reported At Allegheny County Polling Sites

Nov 8, 2016

Update 3: 8:15 p.m.

Polling places were open in Pittsburgh until 8 p.m. Tuesday. 90.5 WESA reporters spoke to voters outside of polling places in Lawrenceville, South Side, Squirrel Hill and East Liberty about the issues that matter to them most and how they decided on their votes.

Jake Radziwon, Lawrenceville: “I’ve never been more informed before an election. Obviously it wasn’t a hard choice to make in the first place, but I felt very informed with what was going on with the House and Senate races. I felt very aware. This is only the second election I’ve voted in, but still.”

Bernice Coleman, East Liberty: “It felt great to vote for Hillary. I’m hopeful. If Trump wins, I’ll cry. We’ll just be worse than we’ve been.”

Trevor Bublitz, Lawrenceville: “One of the big issues for me is the environment and I know Katie McGinty is an avid environmentalist. I think she’s worked for the DEP and everything. So that definitely seems better to me and just things that Pat Toomey has done. I just haven’t approved of either.”

Dara Stockdell, South Side: “Standing Rock is a big deal to my friends and I. We have a Jill Stein poster in our house because she’s one of the only candidates on the ballot right now that’s physically there. Or has even made a comment about it, to say the very least.”

Elisa Foster, Lawrenceville: “This was a really big election and there’s a lot on the line. Some of the candidates made me a little scared, so unfortunately a big part of my vote was out of fear. Usually, I like to be optimistic, but that was a big part of it.”

Signs outside the ward 11 polling place at Rodman Street Baptist Church in East Liberty were all for Democratic and Green Party candidates.
Credit Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Voter Issues

On its website, the Allegheny County Elections Division lists the approved forms of identification that can be presented for voting, both photo IDs and non-photo IDs. On that list is the voter identification card, sent by the voter registration commission. 

At Essex House, a polling place located at 401 South Negley Ave, a voter presented her card, but was told that she would need to show her photo ID. Tara, 29, of Friendship, asked that her last name not be used due to privacy concerns. 

"I was super prepared, because it's my first time voting in Pennsylvania. I had read the back [of the voter identification card] and looked online and it seemed to say that this was an acceptable form of identification." 

Tara said she told electors at the polling place she did not need to present a photo ID, citing the Allegheny County website. She said they told her they were just doing their jobs, and asked for a photo ID to confirm she was who she said she was. Though Tara had her license, she was concerned the photo ID requirement would negatively affect other first-time voters. Ultimately, Tara was able to vote.  

Amie Downs, director of communications for Allegheny County, said Tara's concerns should have been directed to the Judge of Elections. —Margaret Krauss

Update 2:  3:25 p.m.

Polling places throughout Allegheny County continued to experience heavy turnout and some minor issues Tuesday afternoon.

Amie Downs, director of communications for the county, said election officials have received numerous reports from the media and through social media of "vote switching" at precincts in Robinson, West Deer, Hampton and Sewickley Hills.  Downs said  workers checked to determine if the machines were operating properly, and "in each of those cases, there has been no evidence that the machines are working incorrectly." She added that there not any "specific complaints related to [the machines] selecting one candidate over another," Downs said. "The machines simply weren't responding as expected" when voters touched the screen.

According to Downs, in every election there are machines that need to be re-calibrated following transport from the warehouse to the voting site.  "So far today, we have reset three--one each in in Upper St. Clair, Monroeville and West Mifflin.  This is in line with what we see each election.

Voter turnout remains heavy across the commonwealth.  Pedro Cortes, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of State, said he wouldn't be surprised if 80 percent of the 8.7 million registered voters cast ballots.

Polls close at 8 o'clock this evening, but in accordance with state law, anyone in line at that time will be allowed to vote regardless of the time their ballot is actually cast. —Kevin Gavin

Update 1:  12:05 p.m.

Polls this morning were "extremely busy" at many locations throughout Allegheny County, according to Amie Downs, the county's director of communications.  Downs said voting remained steady at the noon hour.

Downs said the county Elections Division continues to receive reports of issues and concerns but "none that are raising red flags."  She added that the issues are typical for an election day.

According to Downs some of the issues that arose this morning: 

  • The judge of elections in Springdale Borough did not report this morning and duplicate materials had to be delivered so that the polling place could open.The location opened around 9:30 AM and voters before that time were directed to a nearby polling place to vote by emergency ballot. The judge of elections, Margaret Vernon, was located by the Allegheny County Sheriff's Office.  According to the Sheriff's Office, she will be charged by summons, delivered at a later date, with failure to perform duties, a misdemeanor. She advised the deputies that she was ill this morning.
  • There were reports of several precincts asking voters for ID.  Federal and state law require that a voter show ID the first time they vote and the first time that they vote in a precinct. They can also be asked to show ID if identification is being questioned. Downs says judges at those locations have been reminded of the law.
  • Voters in Robinson Township reported that machines at the polling place at Burkett School were showing votes different than what the voter was selecting. All machines were tested again with the judge of elections witnessing and votes were exactly as reflected. 
  • Voters in Beechview reported they  had no access to  the polling place at a city firehouse because of utility construction work. The project was  shut down and access restored.
  • In Pittsburgh's 14th ward, 31st district in Point Breeze, not all election workers showed up at the Summerset at Frick Park Community Center.  Poll workers were redeployed to that location.
  • There were reports of non-working machines in several sites. Each site is being visited and, so far, machines being put back in operation with no further issues.

—Kevin Gavin

 

Voters with questions about their registration should contact workers at the polls or the Allegheny County Elections Division (412-350-4500).

 

Reports of voter intimidation or harassment should be made to the Election Project Hotline (1-866-687-8683) or to Electionland, a ProPublica project that will cover access to the ballot and problems that prevent people from exercising their right to vote during the 2016 election (text ELECTIONLAND to 69866 or fill out this form). 90.5 WESA is a participant in Electionland.