Former Luzerne County controller Walter Griffith questioned the eligibility of newly appointed county election board member Keith Gould during Wednesday’s board meeting.
Council had appointed Gould on Tuesday to an unpaid board seat that must be filled by a Republican citizen.
Griffith pointed to a section of the county’s home rule charter that says no election board members shall hold or have held any elective public office at the time of the appointment, while serving on the board and for at least four years prior to the appointment.
Gould disclosed that he is a Fairview Township committee member in his application for the board seat. Election records show he was elected to the Republican County Committee in the township in the April 2016 primary.
County assistant solicitor Michael Butera, who provides legal counsel to the election board, told Griffith he must research if a political party seat is considered an elective office.
County Chief Solicitor Romilda Crocamo said Wednesday her office should have an opinion on the matter Thursday.
This isn’t the first time this issue has been raised.
In 2014, the county solicitor’s office concluded Gerald Hudak would be permitted to serve on the election board while holding a Democratic county committee member seat in Nanticoke.
The charter defines elective public office as “any federal, state, county, municipal or school district position that is elective,” officials noted.
County Councilman Edward Brominski had advocated allowing Hudak to serve on the board at that time, saying he did not consider a Democratic committee seat an elective public office because committee members have no authority over government matters. Committee members essentially promote the political party and select some party leaders, he had said.
In other business Wednesday, the board unanimously voted to send a letter endorsing the proposed lease or purchase of electronic poll books from Election Systems & Software. County council will vote on the contract, which is still under negotiation.
Replacing paper poll books with electronic versions would allow for printed tickets with party affiliation that must be presented to ballot activators. It would also provide a searchable database of voters and their polling places to speed up processing on Election Day, officials have said.
Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.