2 counties with new voting machines had balloting problems

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania state election officials were gathering information Wednesday about Election Day glitches in two counties that rolled out new voting machines, while a race for two open appeals court judicial seats remained too close to call.

A Department of State spokeswoman said York County did not have enough scanners in some polling places, and there was a ballot printing issue in a handful of precincts.

York County and the state Republican Party reached an agreement early Wednesday to have some of the ballots in question counted with a high-speed scanner at the county’s central elections office, and to count other ballots by hand.

Department of State spokeswoman Wanda Murren said there were also problems with election returns in Northampton County that arose after the polls closed. The Morning Call of Allentown reported that manufacturer Election Systems and Software said Wednesday it was not sure what caused the problem in Northampton.

“In both cases, voters should know that there is no problem with the paper ballots that they cast,” Murren said in a statement. “These situations underscore the importance and value of our 2018 decision to move to all paper-record voting systems, which are capable of post-election audits and recounts using records that voters verified themselves.”

Slightly more than half of Pennsylvania counties used new machines for the first time Tuesday, while nine others deployed new machines in the May primary, and one county began using new machines a year ago.

Late last month, Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill authorizing the state to borrow up to $90 million to help counties purchase new voting machines. The new machines must have an auditable paper backup to make the system more resistant to hackers or other forms of election interference.

The results of a four-person contest for a pair of open state Superior Court seats remain unclear.

Philadelphia Judge Dan McCaffery, a Democrat, was leading the four-candidate field Wednesday, and Republican prosecutor, Megan King from Chester County, was running about 30,000 votes ahead of the third-place candidate.

Their respective parties claimed wins for McCaffery and King, although The Associated Press has not called the race.

Trailing were Democrat Amanda Green-Hawkins, a longtime steelworkers’ union lawyer from Pittsburgh, and Republican Christylee Peck, a Cumberland County judge.

The 15-seat court handles civil and criminal appeals from Pennsylvania’s county courts. The court currently has eight Republicans and six Democrats, with one vacancy and one Republican retiring.

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