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Col. Sanders, Wonder Woman among write-in choices

Warren County Director of Elections Krystle Ranson (left), Assistant Director of Elections Margia Hansen, and Commissioner Tricia Durbin look over write-in votes cast during Tuesday’s primary election.

Warren County elections officials were examining ballots, evaluating wayward marks, and tallying write-in votes on Friday.

Electronic equipment read the overwhelming majority of the votes cast in Tuesday’s primary election, including those cast in person at voting precincts and those mailed in.

Still, there was plenty for the board of elections to work on.

There were thousands of individual write-in votes — often for positions that did not have a name on the ballot.

Democratic voters entered 283 write-ins for the U.S. Congressional 15th District Representative. Congressman Glenn Thompson was on the Republican ballots, but the space was empty for Democrats.

Warren County Commissioner and Board of Elections Member Tricia Durbin and Assistant Director of Elections Margia Hansen take a look at a write-in vote on a Republican ballot cast in Tuesday’s primary election as Solicitor Nathaniel Schmidt looks over mail-in ballots with physical defects.

Similarly, Democrats did not have anyone on the ballot for 65th District Pennsylvania House of Representatives and 182 voters wrote in something.

Some of those write-ins — anyone, anyone else, and the like — suggested the party get someone on the ballot.

Other voters chose pop culture figures — from Rebel Wilson, Col. Sanders, and Wonder Woman to Mario and Elmer Fudd.

Board members were frustrated that voters would throw away their right in such a way. “Don’t waste your vote on fictitious characters,” Dan Glotz said.

Board members looked at each write-in and determined if it was likely to be a real person that lived in the area represented by the position.

Solicitor Nathaniel Schmidt logged mail-in ballots that were problematic and prepared to present them to the board.

“There were two Republican ballots where the privacy envelope was not sealed,” Schmidt said. “There were four ‘naked’ ballots — no privacy envelope. Three Republican and one Democrat.”

“The statute requires they be sealed,” he said. A final determination would be up to the board.

“Three ballots — two Republican and one Democrat — were received after 8 p.m. Tuesday” the deadline for mail-in ballots, Schmidt said. “Those will not be counted.”

Some mail-in ballots — eight — were damaged during the opening process. Those were recreated and would be hand-tallied, Schmidt said.

Two Democratic voters made changes to the addresses on their envelopes. Schmidt suggested voters address address problems with the voter registration office and not on their ballot envelopes.

Statute requires that the outer envelopes be signed and dated.

One voter signed the wrong line on the outer envelope. The voter put their signature in a space where a voter can declare a physical disability.

Ten voters — four Republicans and six Democrats — mailed their ballots without indicating a date on the envelope, Schmidt said. “The interpretation is that they are not to be counted.”

However, there is a case challenging that requirement.

“We’ll take a vote from the board on that, but it may be subject to later judicial decisions,” he said.

There were 12 provisional ballots filled out on Tuesday that will be counted, according to Director of Elections Krystle Ransom.

“There were 23 provisional ballots that were rejected,” Schmidt said.

All of those were filled out either by voters who were not registered as either Democrats or Republicans or by voters who were not registered in the county, Ransom said.

The county has until Monday, June 6, to certify its results.

State Republican and Democratic committee seats were also settled during this primary. The sole Democrat, Jeff Eggleston, was unopposed.

But there was a race for the two seats for the county’s representation on the GOP state committee.

Heidi Palmer-Villella was the highest vote-getter with 3,492 votes. For the second seat, Ash Khare won re-election by over 1,000 votes — 2,128 to 1,969 — over Joe Michaels.

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