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Supervisors race still up in the air in St. Thomas

November 11, 2003|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - With just six votes separating the two candidates, the race for St. Thomas, Pa., Township Supervisor between incumbent David C. Ramer and write-in candidate Frank Stearn was still too close to call, according to figures certified Monday by the Franklin County Board of Elections.

"The fat lady hasn't sung yet," said Stearn, who appears to hold a six-vote lead over Ramer, 593 to 587. In order to claim the supervisor seat, he would have to file with the board of elections for an accumulation of his votes.

The certified calculation of the vote shows that Stearn must accumulate write-in votes cast under nine different spellings or misspellings of his name, including 435 votes from St. Thomas 2 as Frank Stearns.

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"I would suspect there was probably a simple clerical error," said Stearn, who used stickers in his campaign. He said poll workers had worked a long day and likely wrote his name down incorrectly on the tally sheet.

"We have to record the names in books exactly as they are on the tally sheets," said County Administrator John Hart.

After the Tuesday, Nov. 4, general election, Stearn calculated he had 593 votes, based on the hand count of write-in votes under different versions of his name that was posted at the three precincts. The unofficial machine count at the Franklin County Administrative Annex that night showed Ramer had 565 votes, but that 567 write-ins had been cast.

The optical readers, however, had not counted 58 ballots for various reasons. In some cases, it was because the Stearn stickers were applied incorrectly, or the readers could not pick up the pencil marks of voters.

It was up to the election board, which began its count Friday, to determine how the votes on those ballots should be credited.

Due to the variations on Stearn's name, including Stern, Sterner, Stearner and Frak Stearn, some voters apparently wrote in his name by hand instead of using the stickers. Stearn was at the courthouse for the certification of the count and to pick up the application he needs to petition the election board for accumulation of votes.

Stearn, 58, of 3870 Ricklyn Drive, has until the close of business Monday to file a petition for accumulation of votes. The board would then schedule a hearing at which time Ramer, of 3135 Jacks Mill Road, can challenge the accumulation of those votes.

Ramer also has the option of petitioning the county court for a recount by next Monday, according to Deputy Chief Clerk Jean Byers.

"It does show you that every single vote does count," Stearn said.

Stearn, a member of a group that opposes a quarry project, announced his candidacy one month before the election.

In Quincy Township, Pa., where incumbent Supervisor Kerry Bumbaugh waged a write-in campaign in an effort to retain his seat, the official count showed he had 518 votes, compared to 678 for Wilbur Sanders, who had captured both the Republican and Democratic nominations in the May 20 primary.

In Mont Alto, Pa., three borough council seats were up for election, but no one was on the ballot. The count of write-in votes shows that incumbent Douglas Duffey had the most votes with eight under that version of his name and three to five others under variants and misspellings.

Incumbent John Flory got two and Michael Gossard also received two votes, according to the count.

In all, borough residents cast 39 votes for 28 different names.

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