Wyoming County Approves Voting System Purchase

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Commissioners Judy Mead (left) and Tom Henry (center) welcomed new commissioner Mike Stabinsky to his first public meeting on Feb. 5. Stabinsky was selected by the Wyoming County Democratic Party and confirmed last week by Judge Russell Shurtleff (not pictured) to fill the board vacancy left by the passing of long-time commissioner Ron Williams.

Photo and story by Rick Hiduk

(Also published in the Rocket-Courier)

The Wyoming County Commissioners have tentatively approved the purchase of a new voting system as per state mandates to return to paper balloting. Representatives from Clear Ballot, a company based in Boston, visited the courthouse in Tunkhannock about two weeks ago and introduced their ClearVote system to members of the Election Board.

Director of elections and voter registration Flo Kellett hopes to have the new system in place for the May primary, which will include both municipal elections and a special election to fill the vacancy left by Rep. Tom Marino’s resignation. The new machines and software will be ordered upon receipt of necessary certification.

The county plans to purchase 32 ballot marking devices and an equal number of ballot precinct tabulators at a cost of $256,000. An additional $110,000 will be spent on everything needed within the polling place to comply with the new system, including booths, said Kellett. She expects the state to cover about 50 per cent of the cost, but is unsure yet of how that will work. The county’s portion was included in the 2019 budget.

It was the most economical system we could find,” commissioner Judy Mead explained. “It takes a photo of every ballot.” In the event of an especially tight contest, Mead added, the scanning device can determine whether a mark that does not completely fill the oval was intended as a legitimate vote.

Kellett related that the system provides data rapidly in a variety of ways. “If you want to look just at the commissioner’s race,” she cited as an example, “all of the precincts show up immediately.”

There will be plenty of time to train poll workers to use the new system, Kellett maintained.

Seventh Graders to be Honored

Commissioner Tom Henry related that the entire seventh grade class at the Tunkhannock Intermediate Center/STEM Academy has completed Heartsaver CPR and Stop the Bleed training, as well as learning how to deliver Naloxone to an overdose victim. “They are the first school in the whole state to do this,” Henry noted.

According to the document read by Henry, classes were sponsored and taught by staff members from Commonwealth Health Wilkes-Barre General Hospital Trauma Services, Commonwealth Health Tyler Memorial Hospital and Commonwealth Health EMS. American Heart Associations representatives also participated in the CPR lessons.

At 12:15 pm on Thursday, the commissioners will visit the school and recognize the 175 students for their efforts. The commissioners have invited state-level representatives to join them at the event, which will be held in the old middle school gymnasium that is now part of the administrative building. Wall-mounted Stop The Bleed kits will soon be installed in the school.

Technology Upgrades Reported

A jail management program is being installed by Securus Technologies at the Wyoming County Correctional Facility. Warden Ken Repsher hopes to go live with the new program by the end of February. “It will make it easier for us to track cases so we have a better handle on when inmates are supposed to get out,” Repsher explained.

The software will alert prison staff if an intake is involved in any programming and/or has other requirements. Individuals who request notification when an inmate is released from jail will be apprised of changes in his or her status. The system was paid for by a grant from PCoRP, an insurance agency that works specifically with Pennsylvania counties.

The commissioners also approved an annual contract with IntegraONE, a business networking company based in Kingston that manages the SMARTnet system at the courthouse. The cost of $52,568 was unchanged from last year and is partially covered by Act 13 funds under the category of public safety.

Staff Changes Noted

Cpl. Robert Warriner has been promoted to Sergeant with a pay increase to $19.20 per hour, as per his union contract. And Joseph Miller has been hired as a full-time security guard at the courthouse at $12.99 per hour, plus benefits. Miller formerly managed the wood yard, which was shuttered at the end of 2018.

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