MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Erie Times E-Edition Article-Mail-in ballot suspense

Posted by M. C. on April 11, 2021

The sad thing is this is the easy part. Wait until May!

https://erietimes-pa-app.newsmemory.com/?publink=4c41fbfeb

Candidate list in Erie clerk race may be wrong

A.J. Rao Erie Times-News USA TODAY NETWORK

Around 20,000 mail-in ballots are scheduled to go out for the May 18 primary in Erie County. But depending on the timing and outcome of pending litigation, they all could be replaced.

Here’s the dilemma: The Erie County Board of Elections on Tuesday unanimously certified a primary ballot, knowing that candidates facing legal challenges to their eligibility could be either dropped or added pending a court decision.

See BALLOT, Page 4A

Continued from Page 1A

The candidates in question are each running for Erie County clerk of records.

Former state Sen. Anthony “Buzz” Andrezeski was left off the certified ballot but could be added following a decision by state Commonwealth Court. The same goes for Chad Hershey, a Republican seeking the same job. Erie County Councilman Ed DiMattio Jr. remained on the ballot but could be dropped pending the outcome of a Commonwealth Court ruling.

Erie County Councilwoman Mary Rennie, of Erie, who chairs the Election Board, said the primary ballot will be revised upon the court’s decisions.

But time is of the essence.

The board is already sending out mail-in ballots to the military and would like to send out mail-in ballots to the general public by the week of April 19.

If the court makes a late decision, the board might have to create and send out a second “corrected” mail-in ballot, a scenario that could cost time, money and possibly lead to voter confusion.

“That is our concern,” said Doug Smith, Erie County clerk. “For that reason, we’re looking to wait as long as possible before sending out mail-in ballots. But I don’t see how we could go much later (than April 19).”

Smith said roughly 20,000 mail-in ballots will be sent out for the May 18 primary. But with each ballot costing about $1 apiece plus postage, a second round could cost the county an additional $20,000-plus.

Rennie pushed back on the scenario, voicing hope that the court will make its decisions in a timely manner and prevent multiple versions of the ballot from being sent out.

Board officials anticipate a decision by Commonwealth Court by April 16 or April 23, however that is uncertain.

“We have until May 4 to start mailing out ballots,” Rennie said.

Should a late decision occur, she said the board “will have to look at contingencies.”

Voting to certify the primary ballot were Rennie and board member Ellen Schauerman.

For longtime Erie politician Andrezeski, the Election Board’s vote was “illogical, backwards thinking,” and a brazen attempt to violate a court order that placed him and Hershey on the ballot.

“They don’t want to obey the law,” he said.

Andrezeski and Hershey, both Millcreek Township residents, have been in a protracted legal battle with the board over their eligibility; namely, their failure to collect the required 250 signatures on their nominating petitions.

Andrezeski, 78, and Hershey, 43, blamed the pandemic for the shortfall and took their case to court, where they received a favorable ruling from Erie County Judge Daniel Brabender on March 22 — a decision that he upheld a week later.

The Elections Board has since filed an appeal with Commonwealth Court and is awaiting a final decision.

“I have a court order placing Chad Hershey and I on the ballot,” Andrezeski said. “The board doesn’t have an order taking us off the ballot. In my legal opinion, this is wrong.” DiMattio, a Republican, had been on the ballot in the clerk of records race but was later removed by Brabender for filing the wrong financial-disclosure form. DiMattio recently filed an appeal with Commonwealth Court.

The Elections Board agreed to leave DiMattio on the ballot pending the outcome of his appeal since he met all other nomination requirements.

The winner of the clerk of records race will take over the $82,866-a-year job. Ken Gamble, who has been in office since 2015, is not running for reelection and has endorsed Aubrea Hagerty-Haynes, a deputy in the clerk of records office.

Karla Jeffery, a senior criminal records clerk for the county, is also running for the office.

Andrezeski accused the Elections Board of “playing favorites.”

“They’re protecting one of their own, a favorite at the courthouse,” he said. “I look forward to a positive resolution and democracy winning.”

A.J. Rao can be reached at arao@gannett.com. Follow him on Twitter @ETNRao.

Andrezeski

Be seeing you

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