Absentee ballots to end close race

Today’s vote count expected to reveal second GOP nominee

HOLLIDAYSBURG — By the end of the day, voters should know if Bruce Erb of Hollidaysburg or Bruce Kelley of Altoona is the second Republican nominee who will seek a county commissioner seat in the fall election.

The county’s Official Return Board of Elections convenes this morning at the county’s highway yard to begin its routine canvassing of votes cast Tuesday and the counting of absentee ballots.

As of Tuesday night, Kelley was three votes ahead of Erb — 5,694 to 5,691 — in a contest for the second Republican nomination on the fall ballot. Republican Amy Webster of Hollidaysburg secured the first nomination with 7,657 votes.

With almost 500 absentee ballots to be counted, elections board solicitor Nathan Karn predicted Thursday that any close race from Tuesday may not be as close by the end of today.

Karn on Thursday assisted the county elections board with a review of two provisional ballots cast during Tuesday’s primary.

The elections board is composed of incumbent Commissioner Terry Tomassetti, who didn’t seek re-election, and appointed members Robert Scholl and Greg Michelone. Those three people also serve on the county’s Official Return Board of Elections, a title designated within the state’s elections code.

At Thursday’s elections board meeting, the board rejected provisional ballots cast by two voters.

In one case, a Logan Township woman reported being a Republican for years and asked to cast a Republican ballot.

But a check of her registration indicated that she submitted a form to PennDOT last year, changing her party registration to “Other.” She also failed to sign the front of her provisional ballot as required by state’s election code, Karn said.

In another case, an Altoona voter showed up to vote at an Altoona precinct, based on his new address, and was advised that he was not a registered voter in that precinct.

Karn said the man was advised to return to his former precinct where he likely remained registered.

Director of Elections Sarah Seymore said he apparently didn’t do that and instead filed a provisional ballot in the precinct where he’s not registered.

Because the board rejected both provisional ballots, no votes on those ballots were revealed for adding to Tuesday night totals.

When asked if the voters who cast the provisional ballots could appeal, Karn reviewed the elections code and found no appeal rights.

But once the county elections board finishes today’s work, the results are available for review and challenge before they’re rendered to the state. The county also has to hold a drawing of lots, currently scheduled for June 7, to break any tie votes.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.