ACTING VOTER BOSS STREAMLINES OFFICE, CUSTOMER SERVICE LEONARD PIAZZA ORDERS CHANGES SUCH AS USING BOTH SIDES OF PAPER, EXPANDING WEB SITE

Wilkes-Barre, Times-Leader

By JENNIFER LEARN-ANDES

Friday, April 16, 2004     Page: 6A

WILKES-BARRE – Leonard Piazza is a stickler when it comes to organization and details, and he’s using that approach to run Luzerne County Voter Services.

“It’s a total cleanup over here, a new broom sweeps clean,” Piazza said.

“It has been priority number one in this bureau from the moment I became acting director to make sure this office is organized and run efficiently,” said acting director Piazza, who took over earlier this month when former director Kevin Jordan was fired for “performance-based reasons.”

Piazza points to poll watchers’ certificates as just one example of the changes he is making.
Used by poll watchers to gain access to polling places, the certificates were typically printed on letter-sized paper. Piazza redesigned them so he can fit two certificates on one sheet.

“It’s a simple way to cut the cost in half,” he said.

He is also preparing to print lengthy lists, such as street lists, on two sides to save paper.
Piazza is computer literate and plans to pack the county Web site with information.

He wants to post public information on the site and e-mail answers to specific questions when possible to trim printing and copying costs and spend less time answering basic questions.

“The Web site after this next election will be the first point of contact for a lot of people to obtain election information,” Piazza said, stressing that paper copies of everything will still be available for people who don’t have computers.

Manuals for candidates and election officials also are on the horizon, Piazza said.
He started mandatory training sessions Thursday for judges of election on new state election changes, and plans to conduct small group sessions throughout the county in coming months to teach people how to conduct elections.

Insufficient election worker training has been cited as a past problem in Voter Services.

“I told judges in the future I plan to have a more open dialogue with election workers and be much more involved with them,” he said.

Piazza plans to streamline the office filing system so people don’t have to wait for information that’s languishing on a desk or misplaced in a filing cabinet.

“The information we have in our computer systems needs top-to-bottom updating. When people request public information that comes out of this office, from all points forward it will be accessible and available.”

Roughly 150 judges of election attended Thursday’s session, he said. Many were jubilant that new election laws require them to use a spiral-bound poll book at polling places rather than the bulky, district register ledgers used for decades.

“A round of cheers and applause went out. In some cases the weight of the election materials used in a polling place will be reduced from forty pounds down to three pounds,” Piazza said.

The only difference the average voter will notice under the new regulations is being required to sign in a book rather than a little card at the polling place on election day.

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