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Hearings set for 90th District vote cumulation

June 07, 2006|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. - With the petition for a recount of eight precincts in the 90th District Pennsylvania House race having been suspended Monday, the Franklin County Board of Commissioners set Thursday, June 22, as the date for cumulation hearings for the Democratic write-in votes for Todd Rock and Patrick E. Fleagle.

The commissioners, who also serve as the county Election Board, will first hear from Fleagle or representatives of the nine-term incumbent, who was defeated by Rock in the May 16 GOP primary by a 111-vote margin. Deputy Chief Clerk Jean Byers said the order of candidates was determined by alphabetical order.

The presentations by the candidates are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. and last approximately 30 minutes each.

On Tuesday, May 30, Fleagle and Rock petitioned the board to add their write-in votes for the Democratic nomination. Fleagle is asking for 13 variations and misspellings of his name to be consolidated for a total of 339 votes, while Rock petitioned to consolidate 10 variations and misspellings totaling 337 votes.

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Also on May 30, a petition was filed on Rock's behalf with the Court of Common Pleas for a recount of eight of the 36 precincts in the district, a request that was suspended Monday by Judge Douglas Herman at the request of the petitioners.

"This is a complicated situation without question," said Commissioner Cheryl Plummer. She said the board will be in contact with state election officials for guidance, along with the county solicitor "so that we are following the law."

"We will run a fair, honest and accountable election," Plummer said. "When all this is finished, whatever the outcome, the general public will still have that faith."

As part of the cumulation process, County Administrator John Hart said, by law, Fleagle and Rock have to notify each other of their hearings and provide proof of that notification at the time of the hearings.

While the hearings are set for June 22, Hart said the election board might not render a decision on the candidates' cumulation requests that day.

"It's conceivable there may be an issue we have to refer to counsel," Plummer said.

While the procedures for consolidating votes are set by law, Byers said determining what votes can be counted is based on previous court cases and rulings on issues such as common last names. The case law is being reviewed by the county solicitor, she said.

In the case of Fleagle and Rock, both men are laying claim to a number of write-in votes that list just a last name.

The state election code, however, provides no direction as to how election boards are to make determinations as to the consolidation of votes.

Nelson Rock, Todd Rock's father, filed both the petition for the recount and suspension of the recount. He said the petition to suspend the recount was filed in order to have the cumulation first so the campaign would know how many votes, if any, it might require to secure the nomination through a recount.

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