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Write-in hearings to decide Democratic candidate

June 21, 2006|by JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The Franklin County (Pa.) Board of Elections on Thursday will review write-in votes cast by Democrats in the 90th District as candidates Patrick E. Fleagle and Todd Rock will ask to cumulate misspellings and variations of their names to determine who will appear as the Democratic nominee for the state House of Representatives.

Those variations include everything from 53 votes for "Rock" and 51 for "Pat Fleagle" to single votes for Dodd Rock, Tod Rock, Flengle and Pate Fegle.

The hearing to cumulate the names, held in two parts, is set to begin at 9:30 a.m. in the jury assembly room on the third floor of the county's annex building.

"At that point, Mr. Fleagle and/or his attorney will present his petition for all the spellings ... to be considered to be added together," Deputy Chief Clerk Jean Byers said.

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Fleagle has petitioned to have 13 variations/misspellings of his name consolidated for a total of 339 votes. He or his representative is expected to present testimony as to why each of those variations/misspellings should be included in the consolidation.

"Then the floor will be turned over to Mr. Rock or his attorney to debate that," Byers said.

The county commissioners, who serve as the elections board in this case, are able to consult with their solicitor for guidance, case law and precedents.

"Then, at 10 o'clock, the roles are reversed, and they'll look at the petition of Mr. Rock," Byers said.

Rock has petitioned to consolidate 10 variations/misspellings for a total of 337 votes.

On his behalf, a petition also was filed to have all Democratic ballots reviewed from eight of the district's 36 precincts. That process, which has been suspended until after Thursday's hearing, would be conducted before a judge in the Court of Common Pleas and would entail looking at each ballot to determine if the write-in vote was counted correctly by the election board.

The precincts in the petition are Guilford 2, Waynesboro 3-3, Hamilton 2, Quincy 1, Waynesboro 1-2, Washington Township 2, Guilford 3 and Washington Township 5.

The county commissioners on Thursday have the option of making decisions on the spot or delaying them.

"We've missed the deadline to certify the (election) results to the state, and they (the Bureau of Commissions, Elections and Legislation) understand what's going on," Byers said, noting other counties have missed the deadline as well.

The outcome of Thursday's hearing can be appealed to the Court of Common Pleas, she said.

Rock defeated Fleagle by a little more than 100 votes in the May 16 Republican primary. The Democratic write-in count is important because no Democrat ran in the primary.

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