AP NEWS

Crispell Not On Committee To Review Electronic Voting Machine Proposals

April 10, 2019

WILKES-BARRE — A nine-member committee will review five proposals for a new electronic voting system Luzerne County expects to receive from prospective vendors, county Manager David Pedri announced at Tuesday’s county council meeting.

County election director Marisa Crispell, whose ties to one of the prospective vendors is under investigation by the state Ethics Commission, will not be on the committee, Pedri said.

Council reviewed a request for proposal that Pedri plans to issue next week for electronic voting machines that provide a voter-verifiable paper trail for added security. Last year, state officials issued a directive that all counties must have paper-trail voting systems in place by 2020, a presidential election year.

“We have a state mandate,” Pedri said. “Many counties have already ... purchased voting machines.”

Proposals from vendors will be due May 10, Pedri said.

The committee Pedri announced will recommend one of the proposals, though county council will ultimately decide which voting system to purchase.

Committee members will include David Parsnik, county director of administrative services; David Skoronski, of the county mapping department; Mary Beth Steininger, deputy director of the county election bureau; Mark Makowski, assistant county solicitor; Justin Behrens, chair of the county Republican Party; John Pekarovsky, chair of the county Democratic Party; former county Councilman Rick Williams, who will represent independent voters; and two members of the county board of elections, Democrat Peter Ouellette and Republican Anne Davies.

Crispell “will not have any involvement in any way with the selection of the machines,” Pedri said.

Crispell in 2017 served on the customer advisory board of Election Systems & Software, one of the five prospective vendors, and traveled to advisory board meetings at the company’s expense. Several investigations into the matter were launched since December. State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale referred the findings of his investigation to the state Ethics Commission earlier this year.

Requests for proposal are the responsibility of the county administration, and county council does not normally review them, according to council Chairman Tim McGinley. But McGinley said the proposal for the paper-trail voting system is an exception, based on the widespread attention the Crispell controversy received.

“There’s been a lot of notoriety in connection with the new voting machines,” he said.

Contact the writer:

emark@citizensvoice.com

570-821-2117