Thursday, October 15, 2009

Newspapers Should Seek Assurance Dead Off Voter Database

If they don't how can valid voters be assured the local results from the next election will be devoid of ineligibles such as the deceased and/or those who have moved out of the state or the county?

The Fayette County Election Bureau has announced that the official vote count for the results of the Tuesday, Nov. 3, municipal election will begin at 9 a.m. Friday, Nov. 6.

Let's watch if a candidate's name appears on the ballot as the candidate is deceased, and likewise will the name remain on the voter registration list??

No candidates for several vacant offices
September 27, 2009 04:25 AM TEXT SIZE By: STEVE FERRIS

...In Dunbar, a borough council candidate in the November election died, but the candidate's name is still on the ballot, Lint said. Bill Watson, who served on council and was running for re-election, died in May.

Was the authorized purge completed since Fayette Commissioner Vincent Zapotosky noted during the July 2008 meeting the deadline for conducting the purge was August 8, 2008?

what is the difference between a 5-year SURE purge noted in the July 24, 2008 Fayette County Commissioners' meeting minutes as a motion that was passed, and what the board of commissioners authorized as a plan May 8, 2008, and a continuation of the plan to purge back in May 22, 2008 meeting minutes?

In light of the recent action taken to fire the director of the Election Bureau, one would think local newspapers would confirm the status of the voter registry excludes names of deceased for the upcoming important Nov. 3, 2009 General Municipal Election.

Net the Truth Online

Fayette postpones purging 25,000 voters

By Mary Pickels
Friday, August 8, 2008

A Fayette County voter purge that was to begin earlier this week has been postponed, the director of the election bureau said Thursday.
"We're going to do it after the (fall) election," Laurie Lint said. "The time constraints were too close. I didn't want to start and not complete it."

The postponement did not sit well with Commissioner Vincent Vicites, who said the purge had been discussed at a May board meeting.

"I'm disappointed it's not being done," Vicites said yesterday.

"We need to make sure our rolls are as accurate as possible. This is probably the most important election cycle in the last four years."

Vicites said Lint was to have a plan ready to present for board approval at the June meeting.

"That did not happen," he said. "I wanted her to move forward on it. The point I'm making is I brought it up in plenty of time.

"Now we have to do it next spring. I will remain fervent about getting it accomplished."

On July 24, the commissioners agreed to authorize the purge, which would have notified as many as 25,000 inactive voters.

At that meeting, Lint said the mailing process had to have been completed by Wednesday, within 90 days of the fall election.

Net the Truth Online

Tibune Review headliners

Director of the Fayette County Election Bureau fired
Buzz up!Thursday, October 8, 2009


Fayette commissioners terminate longtime election bureau chief

Zapotosky said Lint was terminated over alleged "numerous failures to comply with directives." Among the concerns they cited were delays in voter purges, failure to train judges of elections on new voting machines before the spring primary and failure to file quarterly reports with the federal government regarding grant money.

In addition, they said a recent incident in which the county's Democratic Committee — relying on incorrect information provided by the election bureau — missed a deadline to nominate a candidate for Uniontown City Council.

Herald-Standard editorial

Right move

Herald Standard

All county offices are important, but the most vital is the election bureau.

After all, fair and impartial elections are the basis for our democracy, and therefore, the director of this office bears a special responsibility to make sure that elections are run strictly according to the law. It takes a special person, who is not only nonpartisan but intelligent and skilled in carrying out the duties of the office.

Sadly, Lori Lint was found lacking in these areas and was fired this past week as director of the Fayette County Election Bureau. While we take no pleasure in seeing anyone lose their job, we support Commissioners Vincent Zapotosky and Vincent A. Vicites in making the move.

Commissioner Angela M. Zimmerlink disagreed with her colleagues over the need to remove Lint. She noted that the election bureau has taken on additional duties over the years, making their jobs tougher and more complicated than before. She favored asking the entire election bureau staff to air their problems before the election board and implementing a "monitored improvement plan."

This seems far too lenient given the seriousness of the charges against Lint. Every county employee, especially the head of an office, should be held accountable for subpar job performance.

It all comes down to taxpayers needing to know that their money is being spent wisely. Ineptness wouldn't be tolerated in the business world, and it shouldn't be permitted in the public sector either.

The problems in the election bureau have been building for some time. Zapotosky and Vicites said Lint had failed to conduct a purge of the voter rolls in a timely fashion and didn't offer training for judges of election.

They noted that last spring a candidate in a magisterial district judge race was left off the Republican ticket. Although the error was caught in time, it raised serious concerns about Lint's performance.

Everything came to a head over a vacancy on Uniontown City Council earlier this year.

Councilman Marlin Sprouts was forced to resign last March, and council appointed Phil Michaels with the understanding that he would serve until 2011. when Sprouts' term would expire.

Originally, Lint agreed with city officials. But she should have known better. The election law specifically states that all vacancies should be filled at the next municipal election, and that's certainly the way such openings have been handled over the years in Fayette County.

There's nothing complicated about the rule. If anything, such special elections are routine as they occur frequently given the vast number of local elected officials.

Fortunately, Sheryl Heid, the solicitor for the office, stepped in and ruled properly that a special election should be held in the Nov. 3 general election. The leaders of the Fayette County Democratic and Republican parties were told they had until Sept. 14 to nominate a candidate for the race.

Advertisement But then, things got very murky. Fred Lebder, chairman of the Fayette County Democratic Party, reportedly stopped by the bureau to inquire about the ruling.

Lint wasn't there, and someone in the office called the Department of State, which handles elections in Pennsylvania.

A worker in the office reportedly said the seat could be filled by appointment instead of election, and Lint incredibly took the employee's word as gospel.

But she didn't tell anyone else, including Heid, until talking to a Herald-Standard reporter in September.

Why Lint didn't try to confirm the phone call or immediately contact Heid is reason alone for her to be fired. She reportedly told the commissioners that she forgot about Heid's earlier ruling that an election should be held.

You have to wonder what she was thinking, or if she was thinking at all.

But there was more.

The Republicans did file papers nominating Gary Altman to run for the special election. But the papers were filed incorrectly. Lint reportedly said she accepted the papers because she knew the Sept. 14 deadline was at hand, and she didn't want to disqualify the candidate because of a technicality.

How could Lint have forgotten Heid's ruling but remember the Sept. 14 deadline is beyond comprehension.

But even more importantly, rules are rules, and the Republicans should have been told to file the correct papers or forfeit the election.

After learning of Lint's mistake, Heid correctly ruled that an election should be held, but in the meantime the Democratic Party, thinking an election wasn't needed, didn't nominate a candidate by the Sept. 14 deadline.

They asked Fayette County Judge Ralph C. Warman for an extension, and he wisely agreed.

However, the Republican Party has appealed the ruling to Commonwealth Court, and we're now awaiting word on whether a special election will be needed after all.

If it all sounds confusing, rest assured it is. But it all could have and should have been avoided if Lint had simply done her job.

Zimmerlink was right in suggesting that the commissioners should have been documenting Lint's problems all along.

Perhaps if she was aware of the severity of the problems, she might have made more of an effort to improve her performance.

But in the end, there's no excuse for Lint's abysmal handling of situation involving Uniontown City Council. Let's hope that everyone learns from this fiasco, and it never happens again.


The Herald-Standard can't let one of the noted concerns mentioned in the editorial just become a distant memory. A follow-up must happen within mere days if not hours. According to the editorial "Zapotosky and Vicites said Lint had failed to conduct a purge of the voter rolls in a timely fashion..." Surely, the Herald-Standard wants to determine details of this astonishing pronouncement. Has the "purge" been completed - adequately and according to all legal requirements? How many of the 9,000 electors names which were reported as being sent notices have been removed for being deceased or confirmed to have moved out of the state or the county? The county's Election Bureau site words one of its links, "one vote counts," and that leads to a page headlined: The Importance of Your Vote: Does it Make a Difference? "You Better Believe It". Can we believe in the accuracy of the rolls without any formal report? How can we believe the voter rolls have been rid of deceased names and other ineligible names if we lack an up-to-date and formal report of the status of the voter rolls? How many inactive whose status has not been determined as "ineligible" will remain on precinct-by-pre cinct listings? 8,000? 800? What about names which remain where there is no address listed? Have these been checked? While citizens can of course make a request for such documentation, the time is short. The newspaper should make the request for an open record report, today.


County begins purging voter rolls

By Liz Zemba
Friday, February 27, 2009

Buzz up!

Fayette County on Thursday initiated a long-awaited purge of its voter-registration rolls.

Laurie Lint, election bureau director, said her department began mailing out notices to some 9,000 inactive voters yesterday. The figure represents nearly 10 percent of the county's 91,382 registered voters.

County commissioners last summer discussed conducting the purge, but it was delayed until after the November election because of time constraints. Vince Zapotosky, chairman of the board of commissioners, attributed more recent delays to technical problems with the Statewide Uniform Registry of Electors, or SURE.

Operated by the state, SURE notifies the state's 67 election bureaus when voters die, move or register in another county. Zapotosky said the county worked with the State Department to resolve problems with the system, allowing Fayette to move forward with purging its voter-registration rolls.

Lint said the 9,000 voters who will receive letters have had no election-related activity in five years. Such activity includes voting or making changes to addresses or party registration.

Individuals who receive the letters will be asked to contact the election bureau. If they do not, and then fail to vote in the next two federal elections, their registrations will be purged.

That means affected voters who fail to respond to the notices in time for this year's spring primary will still be permitted to vote, Lint said.

In the past, Fayette purged its voter rolls every two years. Lint said that stopped in 1995, when new rules were introduced with the passage of the Motor Voter Law.

Zapotosky said purging the voter rolls will give voters and candidates an accurate understanding of issues such as party dominance.

Of the county's current 91,382 registered voters, Lint said 62,880 are Democrats and 21,929 are Republicans. The balance, or 6,573, are independents.

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