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Lycoming County officials using hand-count to prove accuracy of voting system

Hand of a person casting a ballot at a polling station during voting.
bizoo_n/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Hand of a person casting a ballot at a polling station during voting.

Lycoming County director of administration Matt McDermott doesn’t expect to find any major discrepancies when hand recounting votes from the 2020 presidential election.

“The hand recount will be, I can’t say exactly the same because of human error, but it should be on par with what the electronic voting system recorded as far as results,” he said.

The county’s board of commissioners, acting as the board of elections, voted 2-1 this week to hand-count votes from the 2020 presidential election and one statewide race. McDermott said they’re leaning toward the state attorney general election, but that hasn’t been officially decided yet.

The board opted to hand-count just two elections, primarily to demonstrate the accuracy of the county’s existing voting system.

McDermott said the measure came to a vote after the county received a petition calling for a hand recount of all of the election results from 2020 and for the county to stop using electronic voting machines.

That’s not possible, especially the request to stop using electronic voting. McDermott said that’s required by federal election law.

“Obviously the Presidential race… which is of concern to these folks,” he said. “Based on the amount of data that we’ve captured since using the electronic voting system… we verify 100 percent accuracy every time we do it.”

The commissioners also voted to change the way the county audits any election results. Previously, the county would perform an electronic and hand-count audit of 2% of every result.

As of the vote on Oct. 4, they will combine those into a single 2% hand-count audit.

McDermott said the county is still working out how much the 2020 hand-count will cost and how it will run, but it will likely start in January of 2023 after the 2022 midterm elections.

Sarah Scinto is the local host of Morning Edition on WVIA. She is a Connecticut native and graduate of King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, and has previously covered Northeastern Pennsylvania for The Scranton Times-Tribune, The Citizens’ Voice and Greater Pittston Progress.

You can email Sarah at sarahscinto@wvia.org
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