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Judge to rule in St. Thomas race

January 25, 2004|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

waynesboro@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -It will be a little longer before a winner is determined in the election for St. Thomas Township Supervisor following a hearing Friday in Franklin County Common Pleas Court before Judge Douglas W. Herman.

The contest, between incumbent David Ramer and Frank Stearn, his write-in challenger in the November election, remains undecided because of 88 write-in ballots that are being challenged by both sides.

Without the 88 ballots, Stearn said Ramer has a lead of 569-547. When the county board of elections tabulated the votes last month, Stearn led Ramer 593-587.

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Herman called a recess during Friday morning's hearing to see if lawyers from both sides could agree to eliminate any ballots from contention.

The attorneys, John Broujos representing Stearn, and the husband and wife legal team of Patrick and Carol Redding, who represent Ramer, spent 45 minutes with their clients and managed to eliminate 40 ballots from the dispute.

Votes being challenged by Ramer's lawyers include those on which a voter filled in the straight party vote oval at the top of the ballot, but then wrote in Stearn's name and filled in the oval next to the space provided for a write-in.

Herman gave the lawyers until Wednesday to file final responses before he begins to deliberate on the ballot issues.

The judge promised to rule quickly "so the voters in St. Thomas will know as quickly as possible what their governing authority is going to be."

Herman said the decision will come down to a handful of votes out the 48 remaining in question.

"The court will have to use caution and consideration. Each vote will matter," he said.

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