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Two still in tight race for last spot on ballot

March 05, 2004|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

Barry C. Harbaugh on Thursday added to his slight lead over Gary E. Nally for the eighth and final spot on the ballot for the Washington County Board of Education race in the Nov. 2 general election.

Eight of the 14 candidates in Tuesday's primary will earn spots on the general election ballot. Four school board seats will be at stake.

So far, Harbaugh has 2,853 votes in the primary, 15 more than Nally. Since elections officials have at least 37 ballots left to count, Nally theoretically could reach the top eight.

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"I can sweat a little longer," Harbaugh said when told about Thursday's results.

He said he's more "interested" in the outcome than "concerned" - and will accept it either way.

None of the candidates watched the Board of Elections count absentee ballots. Harbaugh said he couldn't go because he started a job with Pavestone on Tuesday.

Nally could not be reached for comment by Thursday evening.

Washington County elections officials counted 561 absentee ballots Thursday. Of those, Harbaugh received 96 votes and Nally had 91. The order of the field of candidates did not change.

The top eight candidates, in order of votes, remain: Bernadette M. Wagner, Wayne D. Ridenour, Roxanne R. Ober, W. Edward Forrest, William H. Staley, Thomas Berry, Teresa Spruill and Harbaugh.

Wagner, Ober and Forrest are incumbents.

The fourth incumbent in the primary, W. Princeton Young, stayed in 10th place Thursday, 233 votes behind Harbaugh.

Harbaugh was 12 votes ahead of Nally after Tuesday's poll results were compiled. However, when the tallies were reviewed, Harbaugh's lead dropped to 10 votes, according to Washington County Election Director Dorothy Kaetzel.

Ten absentee ballots were rejected Thursday because they were too late or not signed, Board of Elections President Charles L. Mobley Jr. said.

Fifteen absentee ballots were set aside to be counted March 12.

After officials reviewed paper ballots, Dutch Chase, an election support technician with Diebold, fed them into an optical scanner, which counted them. Diebold made the optical scanner, as well as the touch-screen machines used at the polls Tuesday.

Election officials will meet Monday to consider 22 "provisional" ballots cast by people whose registration was in question. For example, a voter's registration might not have transferred from another county.

Kaetzel said there could be more provisional ballots when bags are opened Monday.

Election officials will meet again March 12, the deadline for overseas ballots to be returned. Kaetzel said six ballots were sent out, but had not come back by Thursday.

The same day, the board will count the 15 absentee ballots put aside Thursday. Mixing them with overseas ballots keeps the public from knowing the overseas voters' choices, Mobley said.

Kaetzel said the election board also will certify the primary results on March 12.

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