Meadville Tribune

Local News

November 24, 2013

Name left off ballot, candidate seeks special election

MEADVILLE — Crawford County Court of Common Pleas is being asked to order a special election in the race for a six-year term on the Wayne Township Board of Supervisors.

Bruce M. Peterson, a Wayne resident who was the Democratic Party nominee for the supervisor’s post, is petitioning the court because his name was left off the township’s ballot in the Nov. 5 general election.

Peterson won the Democratic Party nomination for the supervisor’s post in the May 21 primary while Lee Singleton, another Wayne resident, won the Republican Party nomination for the same position in May 21 primary.

Both names were to appear on the township ballot for the Nov. 5 election, but only Singleton’s did, according to the petition filed with county court.

Singleton received a total of 187 votes in the Nov. 5 election while Peterson received two write-in votes, according to official vote tabulations from the Crawford County Board of Elections.

Singleton was declared the winner by the board’s acceptance of precinct tabulations Thursday.

However, under Pennsylvania election law, results are subject to potential challenges for five business days after they are accepted by an election board.

“It’s never happened before that I’m aware of,” Diane Putney Adsit, chairwoman of the Crawford County Democratic Committee and Peterson’s attorney, said Sunday of a party nominee not being on the ballot in Crawford County. “It was just an error.”

A longtime political reporter likewise didn’t recall such a mistake happening before. Jane Smith, who retired from the Tribune after 38 years, said Sunday that while there had been recount challenges in elections, she had never encountered a party nominee’s name left off the ballot in an election.

Adsit filed the petition on Peterson’s behalf Friday after the county board of elections voted Thursday to accept the Nov. 5 general election tabulation results.

“Obviously it was an error — a ballot without a name on it,” Ted Watts, the county’s attorney, said Sunday. “We’re not contesting it.”

The petition Adsit filed on Peterson’s behalf contends the omission of his name from the ballot not only deprived Wayne Township citizens the right to choose their township supervisor, but Peterson’s right to stand for public office.

Peterson’s petition has a proposed court order asking the court set a special election for Wayne Township supervisor between Peterson and Singleton and schedule the election within 30 days of the order.

A hearing on the petition is scheduled Wednesday morning before President Judge Anthony J. Vardaro.

Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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