11-5-19 New voting machines debut on Election Day in Berks 1.jpg

A polling place in Muhlenberg Township

READING, Pa. - While Berks County had a higher-than-anticipated voter turnout at the polls on Tuesday, that wasn't good enough for Commissioner Kevin S. Barnhardt, who narrowly won election to another four-year term on the three-member board.

"I was pleased, but not satisfied," Barnhardt said during the commissioners' weekly meeting on Thursday. "The turnout was higher than we expected at 30%. It certainly should be 100%."

Barnhardt commended the county's elections services staff and the 1,200 poll workers, as the county converted to a new voting system, replacing a 30-year-old system.

Barnhardt said most of the feedback he heard about the new system was positive, however, there was a privacy concern among some voters, as 69 News reported on Wednesday.

"I believe the secret ballot is fundamental to the protection of our freedoms," said Commissioner Christian Y. Leinbach, who was the top vote-getter among the four candidates on Tuesday's ballot.

Leinbach said the county is already looking into options to address the privacy issue for the next election.

"I think this board made the right decision in rolling this out this year with a 30% turnout," Barnhardt said.

He added that the county is projecting next year's election turnout to be in the high-70% range.

Barnhardt, a Democrat, and Leinbach, a Republican, will be joined on the board by Republican Michael Rivera, who will replace Commissioner Mark C. Scott in the new year.

Scott, a Republican, lost his bid for a seventh term in May's primary election and failed to keep his seat on the board in a last-minute write-in campaign on Tuesday.

Scott weighed in on another race, saying he was surprised by the election loss of Democrat Fred Sheeler as the recorder of deeds.

"Although I stridently disagree with many of the recorder of deeds' personal political opinions, I never the less felt that Fred Sheeler did an excellent job as recorder of deeds, and I want to state that publicly," Scott said. "I think he was a real asset to the county. He put in place some cost-saving measures and innovative technological aspects to the office that didn't exist prior to his arrival."

Sheeler will be replaced by Republican Mary Kozak, who won the election with 51% of the vote.