No mail ballot drop box solution identified for southern Luzerne County

				                                Luzerne County’s mailb0x-style drop boxes are stored with county voting equipment at the voter warehouse on Water Street in Wilkes-Barre. The county won’t have a drop box in the Hazleton area for the Nov. 8 general election.

Luzerne County won’t have a mail ballot drop box in the Hazleton area for the Nov. 8 general election, county Election Board Chairwoman Denise Williams said Tuesday.

A mailbox-style drop box cannot be set up inside Hazleton City Hall as usual because city officials wanted to move the box to a part of the building that is not under city video surveillance, the board learned the day of its Sept. 21 meeting.

Two other potential sites were conditionally approved by a board majority in a special meeting last week — the Luzerne County Community College campus in the city’s downtown or the Hazleton One Community Center on East Fourth Street.

However, neither these sites will be able to meet the board’s video surveillance guidance protocols, Williams said Tuesday.

“Unfortunately, despite the efforts of the election bureau and board, we do not have a drop box location for the Hazleton area for the November general election,” Williams said in a text message.

Under a surveillance plan recently approved by the election board, drop box sites must provide video recordings for the entire period a drop box is in use on a USB-based backup device supplied by the election bureau so they can be stored by the county. Previously, the county requested copies of the recordings as needed for investigative purposes.

The county will have drop boxes inside the county-owned Penn Place Building in downtown Wilkes-Barre and the Pittston Memorial Library, the Wright Township Volunteer Fire Department and Misericordia University in the Back Mountain.

Time has run out to explore other options in the Hazleton area because the election bureau is aiming to set up boxes around Oct. 14, which is the target date to send out requested mail ballots.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.

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