Campaigns & Elections

PA elections chief outlines issues experienced at polling places on primary day

Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman said the state’s elections were “successful with minimal issues”

Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman

Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman Commonwealth Media Services

Pennsylvania’s top elections official said the state primary elections were conducted with “minimal issues” on Tuesday, though voters in some counties encountered problems with mail-in ballots, electronic poll books and long lines.

“The election today was successful with minimal issues,” Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman said during a Tuesday night press conference. “Throughout the day, our team fielded 1,200 calls to our voter hotline including reports of polls opening late, precincts running low on ballots, electioneering too close to the polling place and potential voter intimidation, which was promptly referred to relevant law enforcement authorities.”

Chapman said the most significant issues experienced by voters happened in three counties. Programming errors with new electronic poll books resulted in long lines and delays in Berks County, which forced a court to extend the time voters can cast their ballot by one hour. 

The acting secretary said that the department of state received reports of long lines at roughly two dozen polling places within the county as a result of the poll book error. The electronic poll books were removed from service, with poll workers working from paper poll books instead, Chapman said. 

In Lancaster County, approximately 22,000 mail-in ballots were misprinted by a vendor, which rendered them unable to be scanned by voting machines. Chapman said the department recommended that two-person teams mark new ballots by hand to ensure that each ballot is counted. 

Additionally, some polling places in Allegheny County ran low on ballots. Chapman said the county proceeded to deliver more ballots to affected polling places: “The county delivered ballots to those precincts and voting continued uninterrupted.” She also noted: “In every instance, identified issues were escalated to the appropriate entity for investigation and swift resolution.”