After months of intense campaigning, voters will have their chance to speak Tuesday. The biggest race in Crawford County — in terms of most contested — appears to be that of county sheriff to succeed retiring Nick Hoke.

Many people are saying the race between Neil Fratus and Dave Powers is going to be really close. Both are registered Republicans, but Fratus won the Democratic nomination as a write-in candidate, so he will be on that ballot to face Powers, who won the Republican nomination.

This race has caused many divisions and loss of some friendships. Let's hope those divisions and friendships can be mended. It's frustrating to me to see that kind of division at the national level to say nothing of the local level.

Often when a person changes party to run that backfires as many of the loyal party members won't support that candidate, calling them an "in name only" party member.

In this case, however, Fratus has chosen not to change his party registration. It will be interesting to see if that changes after the election.

Powers is a retired Meadville police officer and a deputy in the sheriff's office now. As you may remember, Fratus is a former chief deputy who resigned after the May primary election, but he hopes to return via the ballot box.

Some people thought — based on some circumstances — another retired city police officer was going to run for sheriff, but obviously that didn't happen.

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Two others are running write-in campaigns for county commissioner: Sherman Allen and Glenn Tuttle. Allen is a former commissioner and a Democrat; Tuttle, who serves on Crawford Central School Board, is a Libertarian. Both had sought inclusion on the ballot, but they didn't have a sufficient number of signatures.

They are challenging four candidates on the ballot: Democrats Chris Soff and Dan Hunter and Republicans Eric Henry and Francis Weiderspahn. Voters can vote for only two, but the top three vote getters will be seated.

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Voter registration totals for the county show Republicans still outnumber Democrats and show the GOP has gained more voters since last year. This year, the Democrats number 18,530 to 28,037 for the GOP. In 2018, those totals were 18,498 Democrats and 27,626. Total registered voters in the county are 52,937 compared to 52,547 in 2018.

At the state level, Democrats continue to outnumber the Republicans. Democrats registered to vote are 4,060,001, compared to 3,246,125 for Republican. Last year those totals were 4,111,325 for the Democratic party and 3,270,862 for the Republicans.

Anyone can read whatever they want into the numbers, but to me, they are always interesting.

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Another thing that is interesting to me is the campaign materials and/or items used by candidates to get their name known so people may check on their message. They include buttons, stickers, emory boards, pens and more. Soff wears a tie reading something to the effect of vote for Soff.

I can recall the late Roger Williams always used emory boards, noting that everybody has nails that may need the use of the boards.

Williams always was a great campaigner for one reason: He always attended many of the public fundraisers given by fire departments and churches or other groups. He not only went the year he was running for election but every other year as well. That meant a lot to all those members who volunteer for those organizations.

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Talking about fire departments, it will be interesting to see what happens to the legislation designed to help recruit and keep volunteer firefighters. It has a few incentives that should help.

It also will be interesting to see what impact the new election legislation will have. One thing I noticed is the deadline for new registrations will be 15 days later than currently. That has been challenged in the past by counties, who said that doesn't leave sufficient time to process the registration and get the voter registration lists updated.

Also on the bill is the elimination of the "straight party" voting. Reportedly, that was the reason Gov. Tom Wolf chose to veto and earlier bill that included that provision.

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Voters will cast ballots about whether to change the state's constitution regarding victims' rights, but because of a late statewide court decision, the results won't be certified — meaning they won't be officially counted — pending a court appeal.

The commonwealth court ruled the results could not be certified based on a challenge to the wording. The case must now go to an appeal, which won't be heard until after Tuesday's election.

This is just one example of the impact state judges can have on issues.

Jane Smith is a retired Meadville Tribune reporter who specialized in covering government and politics.

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