The Crawford County Board of Elections expects to certify the results of the Nov. 2 election when the five-day public inspection period currently underway ends at noon on Wednesday, according to Commissioner Christopher Soff, who chairs the board.
“I know people are disappointed in the time” the official count is taking, Soff said, “but when the manner in which they exercise their right to vote is to write in the volume of names they wrote in, there is not a quicker way it could have been done.”
Soff was quick to add a disclaimer, however. The expected certification will likely take place Wednesday, he said, “barring any legal challenges across the street” — a reference to the judicial center that is home to the Crawford County Court of Common Pleas, where potential challenges to the tabulation of votes would be filed.
Soff said he was not aware that any challenges had been filed as of late Monday afternoon. Even if challenges are filed, he added, the board will certify the races that have not been challenged.
The board has completed its part of the statewide recount in a race for judge of the Commonwealth Court and submitted the results to the state, according to Soff. In Crawford County, the recount resulted in the shifting of “at most” a mere handful of votes, he added.
The Commonwealth Court recount was triggered when Democratic candidate Lori Dumas and Republican candidate Drew Crompton finished within 0.5 percent of each other. Pennsylvania law requires an automatic recount in statewide races when the totals are that close.
A recount would not be required in local races that finish with candidates’ totals within the same margin, according to Soff. In six years as a commissioner and a member of the Board of Elections, Soff said the current recount in the Commonwealth Court race was the first he has experienced.
In the race for two openings on Meadville City Council, the unofficial results show Jim Roha and Gretchen Myers as the top two finishers with 1,344 and 1,334 votes, respectively. Third-place finisher Nancy Mangilo Bittner is close behind with 1,322 votes. The 12 votes separating Myers and Mangilo Bittner represent approximately 0.2 percent of the total votes cast in the race.
In the race for mayor of Meadville, Democratic candidate Jaime Kinder leads with 1,348 votes while write-in candidate Marcy Kantz trails with 1,136.
The public inspection period that ends Wednesday allows people to examine the unofficial results of the election, Soff noted, not individual ballots. Those results are available in the commissioners’ office in the courthouse and online at www.crawfordcountypa.net/VoterServices/Pages/Election-Results.aspx.
If inspection reveals “something that doesn’t look right,” Soff said, a challenge can be filed with the Crawford County Court of Common Pleas.
Soff said that, as has happened in past races around the county, a few voters on Nov. 2 wrote in votes for candidates whose names were on the ballot.
Voters in the City Council race, for instance, could select two of four candidates on the ballot or choose to write in one or two names. Early unofficial results showed write in votes for “Nancy Bitner” and “Nancy Bittner” even though Nancy Mangilo Bittner was listed on the ballot. Those votes would be counted, Soff said, as long as the same voter had not also voted for Bittner where she was listed on the ballot.
In other words, in races in which voters can select more than one candidate, they can only vote once for any particular candidate.
That didn’t stop some voters from trying, according to Soff.
“In one school board race,” he said, “someone wrote in the same name four times.”
Despite the effort, the candidate only received one vote.
Mike Crowley can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.