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Myers squeaks in on Greencastle ballot

June 17, 2003|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Through a few twists and turns in the election process and, finally, by luck of the draw, Harry S. Myers Monday became one of three Democratic nominees for the Borough Council in Greencastle, Pa.

"It's unprecedented in Franklin County history to the best of anyone's recollection," Hugh Jones, chairman of the Franklin County Board of Elections, said of deciding a nomination by casting lots.

Don A. Coldsmith, Harold E. Duffey and Jerry Pool were the winners of the three Republican nominations in the May 20 Pennsylvania primary, beating out four other candidates, including Myers, who is an incumbent.

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No candidates filed for the Democratic primary, and all seven of the GOP candidates received write-in votes on that ballot. But winning a nomination depended on some of them petitioning the Franklin County Board of Elections to consolidate votes they received under different spellings of their names.

Coldsmith picked up a Democratic nomination by having votes under five spellings accumulated for a total of 84. Duffey won his Democratic spot on the Nov. 4 ballot by consolidating 70 votes under three versions.

Pool petitioned to have 76 votes under seven spellings accumulated, but notified only three of the six candidates who received 10 or more write-ins, according to Jones.

"That was a fatal defect, according to the election code," Jones said. Other candidates have to be notified in case they wish to contest some of the misspellings or versions the candidate is seeking to consolidate.

Pool had 64 votes under one version of his name, so those were allowed.

Myers had 51 votes under Harry S. Myers, six under Myers and seven as Harry Myers. The board allowed all those votes, tying him with Pool at 64 votes.

Shellie Leedham also was on the GOP ballot and received Democratic write-ins, but 10 of her votes under three versions of her name were not allowed because she failed to notify the other candidates and then was a no-show for her hearing before the board Monday morning, Jones said.

Had those been counted, along with the 57 votes she received under her full name, she would have won a Democratic nomination over Pool and Myers by three votes.

"I should have done it. I would have been in," Leedham said when she heard the news Monday afternoon. She said she did not see the sense in going to the hearing because three other candidates had more write-in votes.

With Myers and Pool tied, it came down to casting lots, according to Jean Byers, the deputy chief clerk for the county. Two numbered balls were placed in a plastic bottle and Myers was given the first shot because it is done in alphabetical order.

He drew the one ball, Byers said.

"Every vote does count," Leedham said. "It counted in the presidential election and it counted now."

Quincy Township resident Wilbur "Wib" Sanders, who won the Republican nomination over Supervisor Kerry Bumbaugh, successfully petitioned to have 93 votes under 11 spellings consolidated. The most he had under any one version was 44, so he needed to have those numbers accumulated or the Democratic nomination would have gone to Bumbaugh, who had 48 of his 52 write-ins under one spelling.

Bumbaugh was at the hearing, but did not contest any of the votes.

"I would say that's the intent of the voters," Bumbaugh said of Sanders' write-ins. Noting just 20 votes separated Sanders and himself in the GOP primary, Bumbaugh said he will run a write-in campaign this fall in an effort to retain his seat.

Christopher A. Firme, the GOP nominee Washington Township supervisor, successfully consolidated 113 Democratic write-ins. Without accumulating those votes he would have lost the Democratic nomination by one vote to Jeffery L. Zody, the man he defeated for the Republican nomination.

Zody had a total of 56 write-ins, but 51 were under one spelling. The most Firme had under one spelling was 50.

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