October 4, 2012
Dallas Township resident Marisa Crispell-Barber isn't nervous taking over Luzerne County's election office a month before the Nov. 6 election.
"I love a challenge," she told county election office workers Wednesday afternoon when she visited the office to introduce herself.
Wyoming County Commissioners agreed to loan her services to Luzerne County, which had no manager overseeing the upcoming election due to acting election director Tom Pizano's unexpected retirement last week.
Luzerne County will pay Crispell-Barber's current compensation of $22.96 per hour plus benefits through Nov. 16, officials said.
Crispell-Barber is already intimately familiar with Luzerne County's iVotronic electronic voting machines because the same models are used in Wyoming County, where she works as voter education director and voting machine administrator.
"I'm fully trained in the iVotronic. I am the troubleshooter on election day in Wyoming County," she said.
Wyoming County has about 19,000 registered voters and 30 election precincts, compared to Luzerne County's roughly 200,000 voters and 189 precincts.
Crispell-Barber said her county's small size made her proficient in all aspects of elections, from processing registrations and training poll workers to setting up ballots and machines.
Wyoming County has only one full-time employee in the election office – Elections and Voter Registration Director Florence Ball.
Crispell-Barber acts as elections director if Ball is out of the office. She also works as the county's chief clerk/administrative assistant and handles myriad special assignments, including oversight of employee insurance and leave time and assisting in the launch of a new website.
"In Wyoming County, we're all team players," said Crispell-Barber, 33, who has been working for the county since she participated in a cooperative education program as a high school senior.
She was hired as deputy election director in 1998 – a position that was later eliminated -- and said she has assisted in election matters since then.
The mother of two said she has a thorough understanding of state election law, which she follows to the letter, and is quick to seek an opinion from a solicitor, the election board or state if a matter is open to interpretation.
Crispell-Barber said she wanted to assist Luzerne because she supports counties working together.
"We need to represent the state as a whole, rather than individual entities within it," she said.
She plans to devote at least two days working on election preparations in Wyoming County.
Ball said Crispell-Barber will help Luzerne County.
"I have every confidence in her that she will handle this task. She's very knowledgeable," Ball said.
During her visit Wednesday, Crispell-Barber praised Luzerne County election workers for maintaining the office through "chaos."
Pizano became the temporary election bureau director in April after Leonard Piazza was terminated as election director.
"I'm just here to share my knowledge and lend a hand to get through this election," Crispell-Barber told the workers.