The Current Luzerne County Council is trying to change the way the Board of Elections is determined to make it more partisan and politicized.
The Board of Elections currently consists of five members: two Democrats appointed by the County Council, two Republicans appointed by the County Council, and a fifth member, the Chair, chosen by those four appointed board members. The Chair may have any or no party affiliations. Members are appointed for terms of four years.
The Luzerne County Council has voted to add a referendum to the November 7 ballot that would amend the Home Rule Charter, giving the Council the authority to appoint all five members. It would also vacate the current board, allowing them to appoint five new members, and change the Chair’s term to two years. While current members of the Board could reapply, there is no guarantee they would be appointed.
The Board of Elections, among other responsibilities, is responsible for certifying elections.
Some issues that arise with this change are:
- losing institutional knowledge within the Board of Elections,
- replacing Board members who were to be independent to a degree with ones that would be subject to Council, and
- changing the Chair, who is often the deciding vote, every two years by Council, meaning a more partisan Board.
This change in the Board of Elections could cause changes such as:
- reducing the number of mail ballot drop boxes, which Luzerne County Council has been interested in doing,
- continued lateness in the timing of mail ballots,
- more national scrutiny on Luzerne County, especially given problems in back-to-back elections,
- problems with the adjudication of elections, and
- a refusal to certify, similar to what was experienced in 2022.
Ultimately, this could impact the Senate, Congressional, and Presidential races in 2024 in a key swing County in a key swing state.
The ballot question will likely be split into three separate questions:
- One question would pertain to changing the appointment of the fifth member of the election board from the board itself to the council.
- A second question would focus on the change of the fifth member’s term from four years to two years.
- The third question would pertain to the change in the method of selecting a chairperson.
Be sure to Vote November 7! Once the questions are made public, more information will be added here to explain what your vote will mean.