The Boyertown Area Times

Attorney hired to help with election issues

- By Karen Shuey kshuey@readingeag­

Berks County is hiring some additional legal assistance.

With First Assistant County Solicitor Cody Kauffman overloaded with work — in particular due to election litigation and freedom of informatio­n requests — the election board has decided to appoint local lawyer Jeff Bukowski as special counsel.

The board approved the appointmen­t Thursday.

Bukowski is a partner in the Wyomissing law firm Smith Bukowski LLC. He will be assigned work by the solicitor’s office.

Commission­er Michael Rivera said the appointmen­t is a necessary and temporary measure to help free Kauffman to work on other legal issues facing the county.

“Elections have taken up a large part of his time, which has not allowed him to focus on the functions that he was hired to perform,” he said.

Rivera said the county is in the process of hiring someone for a permanent position who would specialize in election board issues and Right to Know requests.

“But until we find someone and get them trained, we felt it would be in the best interest to have a third party help Cody out with some of the work that needs to be done in elections so that he can focus on the work he was actually hired to do,” he said.

Commission­ers Chairman Christian Leinbach said Bukowski has already done some work for the county, representi­ng the county in a case regarding the counting of undated mailed ballots following the May primary.

Pennsylvan­ia’s elections agency sued three Republican-controlled county government­s — Berks, Lancaster and Fayette counties — seeking to force their election boards to report primary results that include ballots with undated exterior envelopes. Whether those ballots should be added to official vote totals was the subject of several other ongoing lawsuits.

The Department of State had requested counties submit the undated ballots, saying they would only be counted if the courts ruled they should be included in official vote totals.

But the Berks commission­ers declined to do so, arguing the county had no authority to do what the Department of State was asking and saying they would only certify the undated mail ballot once litigation is settled.

The Commonweal­th Court eventually ruled in favor of the state, ordering Berks and the other two counties to certify and submit their undated ballots.

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