This election proves every vote counts

Tuesday’s primary election in Blair County reaffirmed the importance of every vote, sending a strong message to registered voters nonchalant about their civic duty to cast ballots on Election Day.

The election also proved the importance of every absentee ballot — that people not able to go to their polling place on Election Day for whatever reason, be it business, vacation or medical, should not ignore the option of making their candidate preferences known by way of the simple-to-access absentee option.

Registered voters who don’t know how that option works can find out by getting in touch with a member of the friendly staff at the county election office.

Election night ended on Tuesday with a second Republican nominee for county commissioner not having been decided.

When the initial GOP commissioner tally ended, Bruce Kelly, currently completing his fourth term on Altoona City Council, was leading incumbent Commissioner Bruce Erb by a mere three votes for the right to run alongside top GOP vote-getter Amy Webster on Nov. 5 for a seat on the three-member commissioners board.

It took Friday’s count of absentee ballots and write-in votes to decide the second nominee (Erb by a 52-vote margin of victory). Erb and Webster will compete against the Democratic nominees, incumbent Ted Beam Jr. and newcomer Laura Burke, who were unopposed for their party’s nods.

Incumbent Republican Commissioner Terry Tomassetti opted not to seek another term.

Based on past Blair election history, the two GOP nominees selected in the primary balloting go on to win in November, because of the county’s big Republican registered-voter margin, although that result never can be taken for granted.

Unpredicted outcomes can happen in any election. The controversial countywide property reassessment was the main contributor to the way Tuesday’s commissioner balloting played out, making Erb’s and Beam’s future county leadership uncertain. A Mirror editorial last Tuesday pointed out that, depending on the primary election results, the possibility existed that an entirely new commissioners board might take over the reins of county government in January.

On the Democratic side, newcomer Burke garnered nearly 400 more votes than incumbent Beam.

The controversial Altoona Area School District construction and renovation project impacted that district’s school board election results, with two incumbents who supported the project failing to win nominations for a new board term, while two anti-project incumbents won nominations.

While Tuesday’s Altoona board results won’t change, it will be interesting to see how district residents regard the project, once it’s completed. About a half-century ago, there also was much opposition to major Altoona school projects that, over the ensuing years, served the district well.

Similarly, the countywide property reassessment, over the long run, will be beneficial, even though there were problems associated with it that should have been anticipated, then minimized or averted.

That wouldn’t necessarily have changed what happened at the ballot box on Tuesday.

But results like Tuesday’s are good for elections, even though some dedicated, qualified, well-meaning people fall by the wayside. A lackadaisical attitude about voting evolves when people embrace the notion that their ballots don’t really matter.

Regarding the commissioners contest and some municipal races, consider how many people today might still be lamenting their decision not to vote. Consider how many might now be wishing they had exercised their right to vote by absentee ballot.

Every vote is important, even when the margins of victory and defeat aren’t close.