Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee

Slate of Candidates Final for Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors and TE School District Races

If you are a candidate for the TE School Board or the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors, Tuesday, March 10 marked the last day to circulate and file nomination petitions at Chester County Voter Services for Pennsylvania’s May 19, 2015 Primary Election.

TE School Board candidates must file a petition signed by at least 10 qualified voters of the school district for the political party with which the petition will be filed. Generally, school board candidates cross-file. To cross-file in a primary election (that is, to run on both parties), a registered Democrat or Republican must circulate a proper petition for the other party. The petition must contain signatures as previously mentioned. If elected on both party ballots in the May primary, a candidate will appear on both party ballots in the general election in November.

Between the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors and the TE School Board, there are a total of nine seats available and of those nine seats there are only two incumbents seeking reelection. In addition, the current Tredyffrin Township Auditor Bryan Humbarger (R) is not seeking reelection. The candidates for Tredyffrin Township Auditor are Mary McCracken (D) and Lynn Shine (R).

For Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors, the Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee has endorsed the following candidates:

• District 1 East: Paul Olson *
• Supervisor at Large: Sean Moir
• Supervisor at Large: Trip Lukens
• District 3 West: Heather Greenberg
* Incumbent

For Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors, the Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee has endorsed the following candidates:

• District 1 East: Tory Snyder
• Supervisor at Large: Elva Bankins
• Supervisor at Large: Lou Horvath
• District 3 West: Yolanda Van de Krol

In a review of the slate of supervisor candidates, there are some familiar names and some not so familiar names among the list. The District 1 East supervisor race has a re-match between Tredyffrin Township Planning Commissioner Chair Tory Snyder (D) and long-serving Republican supervisor Paul Olson, president of ANA Laboratories, Inc. If you recall in 2011, this particular Tredyffrin supervisor race was extremely close with Olson (R) receiving 1,331 votes and Snyder (D) receiving 1,318 votes. Only 13 votes separated the two candidates four years ago, it will be interesting to see what happens in 2015.

Besides Snyder, there are two other Tredyffrin Township Planning Commissioners seeking elected office – At-Large supervisor candidate Trip Lukens (R) and TE School Board candidate Ed Sweeney (R). Lukens, a principal at Lukens & Wolf, a real estate appraisal and consulting company ran with current Chester County Commissioner Michele Kichline (R) as at-large supervisor candidates two years ago but lost the election to Democrats Mark Freed and Murph Wysocki.

Another interesting twist in the 2015 supervisor candidate race is at-large candidate Sean Moir (R). Owner of Western Heritage Mapping, a historical mapping service, Moir isn’t new to the local campaign circuit. Moir previously ran as a Tredyffrin at-large supervisor candidate six years ago but as a Democratic candidate. I was on the Democratic ballot as an at-large supervisor candidate with Sean but following our defeat in 2009, I changed my political party status back to Independent whereas Sean’s path took him to the Republican Party.

New names to the Tredyffrin Board of Supervisor races includes candidates Heather Greenberg (R), Elva Bankins (D), Lou Horvath (D) and Yolanda Van de Krol (D). A quick Google search indicates that Greenberg is a CPA working as Director of Finance and Administration at ModSolar; Bankins is management consultant and leadership development coach and speaker; Horvath is Director of graduate online health services at St. Joseph’s University and Van de Krol is Vice President, Relationship Manager at Customers Bank.

Looking at the TE School Board, there are five open seats available this election cycle – two for Tredyffrin Region 1, two for Tredyffrin Region 2 and one for Easttown Region 3.

The Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee has endorsed the following candidates for the office of Tredyffrin-Easttown School Director:

• Tredyffrin, East – Region 1: Neal Colligan
• Tredyffrin, East – Region 1: George Anderson
• Tredyffrin, West – Region 2: Kris Graham*
• Tredyffrin, West – Region 2: Edward Sweeney
*Incumbent

The Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee has endorsed the following candidates for the office of Tredyffrin-Easttown School Director:

• Tredyffrin, East – Region 1: Roberta Hotinski
• Tredyffrin, East – Region 1: Todd Kantorczyk
• Tredyffrin, West – Region 2: Michele Burger
• Tredyffrin, West – Region 2: Alan Yockey

In addition to the Region 1 and Region 2 seats in Tredyffrin Township, Region 3 in Easttown Township has one seat available. Currently serving school board director Dr. Pete Motel (R) is not seeking reelection. Republican candidate for Region 3 is Kate Murphy and the Democratic candidate is Francis Reardon, owner of a local construction company.

Democrats on the ballot for Tredyffrin East Region 1 are Dr. Roberta Hotinski, a geoscientist at Princeton Environmental Institute and environmental attorney Todd Kanatorczyk, a partner at Manko, Gold, Katcher & Fox. Republicans opposing Hotinski and Kanatorscyk in Tredyffrin East Region 1 are Neal Colligan, a commercial mortgage banker at CKPP & Associates and Dr. George Anderson, Director of International Student Development at Valley Forge Military Academy. I am pleased that my friend Neal Colligan, a mainstay at regular school board meetings and finance committee meetings, is a candidate for the school board. A longstanding supporter of the District’s aides and paras, he has continually offered background and expertise on the District’s finances.

Currently serving as TE School Board President, Republican Kris Graham is seeking reelection to another term. Attorney with Wusinich & Brogan and current Tredyffrin Township Planning Commissioner Ed Sweeney (R) is running with Graham for Tredyffrin West Region 2. Opposing Graham and Sweeney are Democrats Michele Burger and Alan Yockey. You may recall, Michele Burger was front and center on the Valley Forge tennis court issue, helping to save them from demolition by the school district. Joining Berger for Region 2 is Alan Yockey, a retired IT consultant.

Here’s hoping that the focus of the local 2015 political campaign season is about the issues and the candidates that best represent the vision of the community. It’s important to know the person that you are voting for and whether or not the candidate best represents your views. It’s your school district and your township – make your vote count! Thank you to all of the candidates for stepping up to run for office!

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TE School District Avoids ACA Compliance Issue – Reduces Hours and Outsources Aides and Paras

We learned at last night’s school board meeting, that the TE School Board’s way around the Affordable Care Act compliance issue is to reduce employee hours. The ACA does not require the District to provide health insurance to those employees working less than 30 hours a week – so the District’s answer to the Federal law is simple … cut hours of the lowest paid employees.

The District’s quick and dirty solution to avoid ACA compliance issues for 73 full-time District aides and paraeducators is to give them two options – either the full-time employee agrees to work part-time (27 ½ hrs. or less) or they will see their District job outsourced, effective July 1.

Under the leadership of School Board President Kris Graham, the School Board approved the following resolution:

Aides and paras resolution

The Board vote to approve the resolution was 7 – 1.  Republicans Kris Graham, Jim Bruce, Virginia Lastner, Doug Carlson, Peter Motel and Democrats Karen Cruickshank and Kevin Buraks voted in favor of the resolution. Democrat Scott Dorsey opposed the resolution and Republican Liz Mercogliano was recused from voting because her daughter is a part-time aide in the District.  In addition to not voting, Mercogliano was not permitted to comment or ask any questions regarding the Affordable Care Act. Voting is one thing but it is unclear why District solicitor Ken Roos would not permit Mercogliano to ask questions regarding the Affordable Care Act.

The full-time District aides and paras did not receive notice that last night’s school board meeting would include a decision regarding their employment future. Nor was there any attempt to seek public comment or discussion on the ACA compliance issue.  Buried on page 4 of the meeting agenda was the seemingly innocuous ‘ACA Update’.  Other than school board directors and some administrators who would know that ‘ACA Update’ was actually code for outsource the District’s aides and paraeducators.  To be clear, the resolution did not appear in the online agenda materials or on the District website (it was only available to those attending the meeting).

The 73 full-time District aides and paraeducators learned their fate following the Board meeting, through a 10:30 PM email from Personnel Director Jeanne Pocalyko. The aides and the paras must make a decision by May 1 – they can opt to stay a District employee as a part-timer (with reduced hours) or their job is outsourced to an unnamed vendor.  No details about the selection process of a vendor – will the District solicit vendors through an RFP or has the unnamed vendor actually already been decided?

A key component in the computation of PSERS (retirement benefits) is the final average salary of the employee, which is calculated based on an average of earnings during their last three years of employment.  So … say one of these full-time District aides was 57 yrs. old and had planned to retire at age 60. Under the conditions of continued District employment, he or she has a substantial reduction in salary from full-time to part-time status. Because the PSERS calculation of retirement benefits is based on these final three years of employment – with earnings reduced by the District, the employee will see their retirement benefits reduced at time of retirement as a result.

Are there legalities with this resolution – the Board’s decision will affect the future retirement benefits of 73 District employees. Many of the District aides and paras have served the District’s children and their families for years; is this the way the Board rewards their loyalty?

Let’s review – the District can afford administrator bonuses, raises and a Cadillac health plan to the highest paid District employees but rather than provide insurance to the lowest paid employees, the School Board elects to cut the hours of 73 aides and paras, thus reducing their future retirement benefits.**

Ms. Graham’s term on the school board ends in 2015 but she plans to seek reelection.  Will her leadership in the outsourcing of aides and paras influence her endorsement by the Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee?  More importantly, will Graham’s decision to outsource influence voters in November.  The terms of Jim Bruce, Liz Mercogliano and Pete Motel also end in 2015. I know that Bruce will not seek re-election but not certain of the plans of Motel and Mercogliano.

____________________________

** According to the PA state retirement system website, the formula for establishing retirement benefits states, “Your final average salary is the highest amount you earned during any “three non-overlapping periods of four consecutive calendar quarters. For most employees, it is the average of your last three years’ salary.”  

The key is that typically the highest paid three years would occur at the end of one’s career.  In the case of the TESD aides and the paraeducators who will go from full-time to part-time hours should they choose to stay employed in the District, their pension will be based on a prior 3-year period.

For further information regarding Pennsylvania state pension, visit the website: http://sers.pa.gov/members-pension-formula.aspx

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Perceived or Real Conflict of Interest?

I have been open in my concerns related to political committee people who continue to serve in that capacity once elected to the Board of Supervisors.  Currently Tredyffrin Township has three of the seven supervisors (Michelle Kichline, Evelyn Richter and Kristen Mayock) also serving as committeewoman for the Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee (TTRC).

Once elected, township supervisors are elected to serve all the residents, regardless of their political affiliations.  But by remaining in a political party committee position and serving as an elected official there could exist a conflict of interest — if only in perception.  This is certainly not intended as an indictment on the performance of Kichline, Mayock and Richter as supervisors; I have spoken personally to Michelle and Kristen, voicing my concern over this issue.

Michele has served as a supervisor and now as chair of the Board of Supervisors, without any obvious bias towards the political party for which she is a committeewoman.  However, as previously stated on Community Matters, our neighbor Radnor Township takes away the possibility of conflict (perceived or real) — their Home Rule Charter prohibits public elected officials from serving as political party committee people.

The following editorial in the Main Line Suburban by Jerry Kinkead, a former Tredyffrin Township Republican Committeewoman, supports my position and offers personal insight into what could (and has happened) when the lines of separation between a political committee person and elected official blur.  Kinkead not only believes that the current arrangement in Tredyffrin Township is a conflict of interest but is calling for a change in Tredyffrin’s Home Rule Charter.

Conflict of interest

To the Editor:

Thanks to a local Tredyffrin township blog called Community Matters, I have recently learned that three members of the Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors (Kichline, Richter and Mayock) are also elected members of the Tredyffrin Township Republican Committee. I believe this to be a fundamental conflict of interest, which could lead to the blurring of allegiance. I propose that Tredyffrin’s Home Rule Charter be amended to disallow this practice.

Community Matters pointed out that Tredyffrin Township’s Home Rule Charter does not address this issue, but that in the Radnor Township Home Rule Charter there is a prohibition against being an elected political official while, at the same time, holding an elected governmental position, as well as a provision for dismissal or termination of appointment should this prohibition be violated.

In Chester County, during the decade of the 1970s, we had a situation whereby the chairman of the countywide Republican Party was also chairman of the Chester County commissioners, which was seen as a conflict of interest by some. As a result, a group known as the Independent Republicans set out to make changes in the local Republican Party, with one of their most pressing goals being the separation of those two jobs. There was a protracted political struggle over this issue, though the County Republican Committee eventually saw the wisdom of the goal, after the indictment of the county chairman. Subsequently, the local Republican Party bylaws were changed to disallow the holding of those two influential offices by the same person.

In the 1970s case in Chester County, the county commissioner was found to be giving out contracts to people who supported the party financially. He did not follow the rules for bidding contracts and was eventually indicted and sentenced for breaking the law.

In my view, the problem with holding a political position and a governmental position at the same time is that the lines can become blurred, and measures may be supported by a government official that are meant to advance the interests of the political party. At a local level, there are decisions to be made about appointments, issuance of building permits, support of local institutions and the like, which should be made by people whose guiding interest is the government they are a part of, and not the party that they also serve.

I suggest that the three Tredyffrin supervisors who now hold joint offices should resign their positions in the local Republican committee, and I urge the Board of Supervisors to take a look at how to change the Tredyffrin Home Rule Charter to eliminate this clear conflict of interest.

With respect,

JERRY KINKEAD
Tredyffrin resident
Former Tredyffrin Republican Committeewoman
Wayne, PA

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Once a State Rep Campaign Debate, Could the Tolling of Rt. 422 be a ‘Model’ for Tolling Highways across the State?

 What’s the saying, ‘What Goes Around, Comes Around” . . . ? 

For most of the year 2010, voters of Tredyffrin Township had a front row seat as the ‘tolling of Rt. 422’ issue became a political football in the PA State House 157 race between incumbent State Rep Paul Drucker (D) and challenger Warren Kampf (R).  Some political insiders might even argue that Drucker’s stance on 422 tolling may have contributed to the loss of his state representative position last November.

Although a heated campaign issue, post-election the tolling of Rt. 422 has had nearly non-existent discussion.  That is until now. According to Pennsylvania Independent, an on-line news service, the 25-mile, four-lane US Route 422 will be promoted on Monday, June 6 as a potential ‘model’ for tolling highways across the state as a means to increase transportation funding. 

Gov. Corbett’s recently appointed 30-member Transportation Funding Commission will hear a presentation on how tolls would work on Rt. 422 in Montgomery, Chester and Berks counties.  The executive commission is looking at a way to generate at least $2.5 billion in annual transportation funding for infrastructure needs and the ‘tolling of 422’ may serve as the state’s model for how to do it.

According to Barry Schoch, Secretary of Transportation for Pennsylvania and chairman of the commission, “Route 422 model would allow county or municipal authorities to form a ‘local taxation authority’ and keep the revenue from tolls and local taxes dedicated for local highways”. 

Construction of a local suburban commuter rail line was one of the possible uses of 422 tolls and a means to alleviate some of the highway traffic.  If you recall, the Philadelphia-based Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission (DVRPC) created a Route 422 Corridor Master Plan and presented their findings in 2010 to local municipalities, including Tredyffrin Township.  Their plan, among other things, provided for a light rail commuter service and suggested tolling on Rt. 422 as a way of financing the project.

During 2010, the tolling of 422 provided a major talking point for the Drucker and Kampf political campaigns.  Drucker supported DVRPC and the Route 422 Corridor Master Plan, which included tolling of 422.  However, Drucker was specific that the tolling was for the commuter who was traveling the entire stretch of the highway on a regular basis, not the occasional user or those that would use it on-off. 

In response to Drucker, Kampf’s opposing position on the Route 422 Corridor Master Plan was simple.  On his campaign website, Kampf stated “My position on tolling Route 422 is clear: I oppose it.”  Remaining true to his campaign words, when asked to respond to the upcoming Transportation Funding Commission presentation to use tolling of 422 as a model for the state, Kampf said, “Tolling is another way of taxing people. . .”  He is opposed to using state and local funds to build, operate and maintain a commuter rail line that would benefit rail commuters at the expense of others. 

Like much of the country, many of Pennsylvania’s roads and bridges are in crisis; desperately in need of repairs. Although lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree on the infrastructure needs, they may not be as unified in the funding solutions.  No one has a crystal ball, but we now see evidence from Corbett’s Transportation Funding Commission that supports Drucker’s vision for the future . . . a suburban commuter rail line and the use of tolls to finance  infrastructure improvements.

Some could argue that State Rep Kampf battled former State Rep Drucker successfully on the 422 tolling issue, but it looks like Kampf could face a far greater challenge in Harrisburg . . . and,  from both sides.

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TTDEMS Chair Dariel Jamieson Offers Comment on Special Election Ballot Hand-Counting

Dariel Jamieson, chair of the Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee, provided a comment to Community Matters. Jamieson’s remarks speak directly to the hand count by Chester County Department of Voter Services on Monday of the Special Election ballots. Her remarks provide us with further details of the recounting process and I thought it important to provide them in this post (see below).

In her remarks, Jamieson brings up an interesting point – it certainly would have helped if Voter Services had run the ballots through a voting machine prior to the hand count. I would think that if Voter Services could duplicate the machine malfunction error, there would be a greater probability of correcting the problem! Echoing a question that another CM reader posed, what were the candidates told by Voter Services as the ‘reason’ for the 61 uncounted votes.

[Subsequent to this post, Dariel Jamieson has provided an official press release from the TTDEMS, click here to read.  According to Jamieson’s information, over 100 of the 223 precincts in Chester County have not reported voting irregularities.  In my opinion, there should be a complete internal examination of systems and procedures at the Department of Voter Services.]

In reading between-the-lines of Jamieson’s remarks, is there a sense that the end of the story may not yet be told?

Comment from Dariel Jamieson, Chair, Tredyffrin Township Democratic Committee

I have been told by our witnesses that there was NOT a machine count of the Tredyffrin votes prior to the full manual recount. We believe Voter Services acted with good intentions, thinking it would be helpful to speed resolution of the special election by going right to a manual count. While this did speed things up, I personally believe that a machine count first might have shed some light on how and why the machines might have been malfunctioning.

Voter Services also told our witnesses that there was no way to know for sure that all the uncounted ballots were Republican, although seeing the outcome of counting them Makes it look like they were. We were told that all the ballots that were accepted into the machines end up in the same compartment, so it could not definitively be said which ones were counted and which were not. If something was wrong with only Republican ballots, why did they not all reject?

A reconciliation of the number of ballots that were counted in the manual count has not yet been reconciled to the number of signatures in the sign in sheets and names in the poll books. Voter Services has said that those kinds of reconciliations will be done after all the precincts in the County have gone through the official count process. If those numbers all match, then one could conclude that the number of physical ballots that were manually counted was the correct number of ballots. If they should not match, one would have to ask where the additional ballots came from.

Speculation that putting the ballots in face up, face down, backward, or with poor tears of the perforation could all be possible, but that seems incompatible with the idea that all the unread ballots were Republican.

And adding 61 ballots to the mix will almost certainly change the totals in the other races, bur probably not enough to change any primary election vote outcomes.

We, too, are waiting for answers.

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Heaberg Claims Victory in Special Election but Questions Remain For Chester County Voter Services

Late last night I received a press release from Mike Heaberg (see below) that declares his victory in the Special Election.

Both political parties appear to be satisfied with the special election ballot hand counting on Monday by Chester County Department of Voter Services.  The recounting process uncovered 61 ballots that were not originally counted, adding 52 additional votes to Republican Mike Heaberg and 9 additional votes to Democratic Molly Duffy totals. The original vote count had favored Duffy by 40 votes, but with the additional votes, the final vote count was Duffy, 2,275 votes and Heaberg, 2,278; a difference of only 3 votes, in favor of Heaberg.

We now know that all 61 ballots belonged to registered Republican voters, leading to many questions.  It is understood that the actual ballots of the Republican, Democratic and Independent voters are printed differently.  The only thing that makes any sense is that there appears the problem may have been a printing or alignment issues on the Republican voter’s ballots.  I have also learned that the problem was not at only 12 of the 17 precincts as I previously wrote, but actually occurred at virtually every precinct.

Therefore, if we assume that there were mechanical issues with Republican ballots, printing or otherwise, I still find myself struggling with several issues and maybe someone can help me.  After the polls closed on election day, I assume that there is a certain procedure that takes place, i.e. tallying the votes, posting the results at the precincts, delivery of materials to Voter Services, etc. As part of this procedure, each precinct must have an individual responsible for ‘signing-off’ on the accuracy of the vote count, correct? So did these individuals sign-off on the results?  Did they report the inaccuracies to Voter Services when they delivered the materials that evening? I am curious how the actual procedure works — maybe Steve Shapiro as Judge of Elections for W-2 precinct could help us understand the procedure.

I understand that Voter Services was aware made aware of various issues, including malfunctioning machines, during the course of Election Day. If Voter Services knew there were problems and that the vote count was inaccurate, why would they bother to post the precinct vote count and the final totals on their website?  Would it not be more appropriate for them to make a statement concerning the problem and that they were working to correct the discrepancies? 

The issues surrounding the special election – the malfunctioning voting machines, the uncounted 61 votes, inaccurate reporting of ballot results, etc. are  unsettling and troubling; and I look to Voter Services for answers and accountability.  Not only about what exactly went wrong but also how they intend to correct these problems in advance of the general election in November. At a minimum, I suggest an internal examination of Voter Service procedures.  Should the County Commissioners investigate?

Heaberg Wins Special Election
Thanks People of Tredyffrin, Chester County Voter Services

Tredyffrin Supervisor Michael Heaberg today released the following statement regarding the results of the Special Election held on Tuesday, May 17th:

“In light of the hand count of all votes in this race by Chester County Voter Services in the presence of representatives from both campaigns, and with the results of that count showing my campaign to have won, I want to thank the voters of Tredyffrin for their support and all of the people who worked so hard in this campaign to make this victory a reality.”

“I look forward to representing the concerns of all Tredyffrin residents and addressing issues of importance to all, just as I have as an interim Supervisor. I ran on a platform of continuing fiscally responsible government that meets the needs of residents and protects our quality of life, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and continue a successful track-record for the people of Tredyffrin.”

“While the special election is now over, I look forward to continuing to meet with and talk to the people of Tredyffrin as I seek their support for a full term as Supervisor.”

“I also wish to join with the leaders of the Democratic Party of Tredyffrin who expressed their confidence in Voter Services’ ability to come to an accurate and reliable tabulation. I thank the professionals there who took the time to investigate reports of voting machine issues on election day and put in the effort to ensure a result in which all residents can have confidence.”

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Hand-Count of Duffy-Heaberg Special Election Ballots in Tredyffrin Finds 61 Uncounted Ballots . . . Changes the Outcome of the Race

A week ago the polls closed, the votes were counted and unofficially Democrat Molly Duffy had won the Special Election against Republican Mike Heaberg by 40 votes.  Chester County Department of Voter Services listed unofficially Duffy receiving 2,266 votes and Heaberg with 2,226 votes.

Immediately following the closing of the polls, there was discussion of voting inaccuracies and talk of machine malfunctions.  We learned first hand from Steve Shapiro, the Judge of Elections at the W-2 precinct, that there were an additional 5 ballots found in the voting machine that were not counted.  There were reports of similar malfunctioning machines at four or five other precincts in the township. As a result, Chester County Voter Services conducted a daylong hand-count yesterday of all 17 voting precincts in Tredyffrin.  Duffy and Heaberg attended the recounting by Voter Services, as did their attorneys and representatives from the Tredyffrin Township Democratic and Republican parties.

Late yesterday, after recounting all the ballots by hand, it was determined that 61 ballots were not originally counted, changing the results of the special election.  Of the 61 ballots found not counted, nine additional votes went to Duffy and 52 additional votes went to Heaberg.  The new unofficial vote total indicates Duffy receiving 2,275 and Heaberg receiving 2,278 . . . a difference of 3 votes, this time in favor of Heaberg. If this total is accurate, it may be the closest supervisor election in the township’s history.

It is my understanding that there was vote count issues found in 12 of the 17 precinctsHow is this possible?  That strikes me as a very high percentage of malfunctioning machines!  However, at this point, it is unclear to me if the problems were attributable only to machine malfunctions or if there were other types of errors.  Who could have predicted that a 40-vote difference in favor of one candidate could change with a recount to favor the other candidate by 3 votes?  What is the probability of that happening?

Again, there is caution that the new special election vote totals are unofficial until certified. Do we believe that the hand-count is accurate and that this final vote count will standOr, will it take 4-5 weeks as previously explained, for the certification process?  Assuming the new hand-count number is correct; will the Democrats challenge the election results?

For me, I’m still stuck on how 61 ballots went uncounted . . . and how many times in past elections has this same scenario played out but may have gone unchecked?  It really makes one wonder.

Bottom line, until there is official confirmation on the special election results, I guess we just need to stay tuned.

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Although the Dark End of the World Predictions Failed, There’s Light for Tredyffrin’s Special Election

If you are reading this, the end of the world predictions failed to pan out for Harold Camping.  The religious broadcaster made the world’s biggest mistake, twice.  Camping got the date wrong in 1994 when he said the world would end that year, and later explained its continued existence by saying he had made a mathematical error.

However, the May 21, 2011 prediction was different; Camping and his followers lavishly spent more than $100 million on billboards and radio advertising.  Now Camping is left shaking his head, bewildered, that things did not go according to his prediction and the world did not end at 6 PM on May 21.  With no Plan B in place, Camping may be forced to find some obscure, overlooked translation or an error in his math and then move the apocalypse date to a new date.

To follow up on last week’s special election in Tredyffrin, by the time you read this, there may be further news.  It is my understanding that at 9 AM this morning (Monday), the two at-large supervisor candidates, Democrat Molly Duffy and Republican Mike Heaberg are meeting with Chester County voter service representatives. (The special election determined who would fill the vacated seat of Warren Kampf until January 2012).  Also in attendance for the voter services meeting will be a representative from the local Democratic and Republican parties.  Additionally, Duffy and Heaberg will each have an attorney present.  Voter services will be conducting a hand count of the votes from the special election with Duffy, Heaberg and others in attendance. 

I am not clear if voter services is hand counting the votes from all 17 precincts or only the precincts where is evidence of voting machine malfunctions.  As it now stands, the unofficial vote count from last week’s special election indicates 2,266 votes for Duffy and 2,226 votes for Heaberg, a difference of 40 votes.  The public needs to know that the total count in the special election is accurate and that all votes were counted, but . . . we as a community need to get to the other side of this issue and accept he voter services hand counting today.

Tonight is the Board of Supervisors meeting . . . will supervisor Heaberg remain on the dais as a member of the Board of Supervisors or, if the hand count with voter services supports the unofficial results that Duffy is the winner, will she take her seat as a supervisor?  Originally, all indications were that the official results from the special election would be official and certified in 4-6 weeks.  However, the special election hand counting is taking precedent over voter services handling of the primary election results; perhaps there will be an official vote count released today. Stay tuned.

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Unofficial Results from Chester County Indicate Duffy Won by 40 Votes in Tredyffrin’s Special Election . . . Reports of Malfunctioning Voting Machines Add a Twist

The polls have closed; the votes counted and unofficial results from Chester County indicate that in the special election race for supervisor, Democrat Molly Duffy received 2,266 votes, Republican Mike Heaberg 2,226 votes and that there were 6 write-in votes. According to these results, the unexpired term of Warren Kampf will be filled be Duffy until January 2012.  Heaberg was appointed in February 2011 as the interim township supervisor pending the results of the special election.  Heaberg and Duffy will face-off again in the November general election for a new 4-year, at-large supervisor term.

The election of Duffy to township supervisor was history making; she becomes only the third Democrat in Tredyffrin’s history (and the first woman) to hold the office.  I congratulation Duffy on this achievement and I look forward to seeing what she can accomplish over the next 7 months.  There are many important upcoming township issues including the public hearing on a historic preservation ordinance change on Monday, May 23 and the June public hearing on sidewalks in the township, which will require her immediate attention.

The weather for the primary was dismal as was the voter turnout.  It appears that only about 21.62% of the eligible Tredyffrin Township voters cast a vote in yesterday’s primary election. (Countywide the number of eligible voters who went to the polls is even lower at 15%),  Of the 3,000+ independent voters in Tredyffrin, only 7% took their voice to the polls yesterday.  Voting in primary elections is not an option for third-party voters so many independents may have stayed home, not aware that they could vote in the township’s special election.  For those independents that did vote yesterday, our ballot only contained one race, the special election.  Another interesting statistic from yesterday’s primary, – there were 63 people who voted in the primary election but did not cast a vote in the special election.  Why?  I wonder if that a conscious decision or an oversight by the voter?  With an unofficial margin of victory at 40 votes, those 63 votes made a difference.

Yesterday’s voting polls were not without technical glitches.  At my polling location, Tredyffrin W-2, a technician from Chester County was called for a voting machine malfunction.  Apparently, the voting machine was beeping and displaying system error messages when some of the voters placed his or her paper ballots in the scanner. According to the County technician, other precincts in the township were reporting similar problems.

When the polls closed at Tredyffrin W-2, the counter on the scanner said that 517 ballots had been deposited; however, when the machine was opened and the ballots hand-counted, there were 522 ballots inside.  It would appear that the scanner did not process all of the ballots.  If this was a widespread problem, theoretically it could change the results of any close elections.

From the County website, click here for the unofficial results for Tredyffrin W-2.  You will see that it shows 519 ballots cast – 2 more than the 517 ballots counted by the scanner.  According to the Judge of Elections for Tredyffrin W-2, this is because two voters used the electronic machine and, therefore, cast electronic ballots rather than paper ballots.  In short, the unofficial results reported on the County website are not correct because at a least a hand-full of paper ballots were not processed by the scanner and, therefore the results do not include the votes of all those that voted.  The County will need to re-process all the paper ballots to verify the voting results.

Are the absentee ballots included in these County results? Will the re-processing of the ballots change the outcome of the special election . . . ? We may have to wait for that answer until the ballots from all 17 Tredyffrin Township precincts are re-processed.

I do not recall this technical voting machine malfunction in past elections, so here’s hoping that the glitch is corrected for the November general election.

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Light at the End of the Tunnel for Tredyffrin’s Special Election Candidates – Your Vote Counts!

There is light at the end of the tunnel for Republican Mike Heaberg and Democrat Molly Duffy, Tredyffrin’s special election supervisor candidates. Monday, May 16 will be the last full campaign day before the special election and primary election the following day.  Appointed interim township supervisor on February 7, Heaberg faces opposition from Duffy in the special election . . . they will take their case to the voters on Tuesday, May 17.  Vying to fill the open Board of Supervisors seat left vacant by State Rep Warren Kampf, Heaberg and Duffy have spent much time at people’s doors in the community, asking for support and hoping to garner a commitment of a vote.

Historically local voter turnout for the primary election is dismal; but maybe the prospect of choosing a supervisor in the special election will attract more voters this year. For us registered Independents, primary elections come and go in Pennsylvania, always without us . . . sadly we do not get to vote in primaries.  Pennsylvania is one of 18 states where Independent voters cannot vote in primary elections; I have often-thought that closed primaries disenfranchise a significant number of the American people. 

So although we must leave it to our Republican and Democratic friends to vote in Tuesday’s primary election, the Independents can make our voice heard in the supervisor selection process  in the special election.  Yes, all registered Independent voters, your vote will count in the Heaberg-Duffy special election race.  Although we only get one vote on Tuesday, it is an important vote nonetheless . . . your can help decide who will serve our community as an at-large supervisor until January 2012.  Regardless of who merges victorious on Tuesday, Heaberg and Duffy will both appear on the November general election ballot for a full 4-year term. 

For registered Democratic and Republican voters, you too can vote in the special election but, additionally you can vote in the primary election for supervisor, school board and magisterial district court judge candidates.

The polls will be open for the special and primary election from 7 AM – 8 PM.  Below are all our local candidates that will appear on Tuesday’s ballot. 

In case you missed them the last time I posted them, I have again included each candidate’s resumes or bios. (click on the candidates names).

Although I encourage and welcome thoughtful debate and commentary on Community Matters, it is your vote that will make the difference on Tuesday!

Special Election Supervisor Candidates:

Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisor Candidates:

 Tredyffrin-Easttown School Board Candidates:   

It is my understanding that all school board candidates have cross-filed as both Republican and Democratic candidates.

  • Easttown, Region 3: Peter Motel (R) **
  • Easttown, Region 3: Craig Lewis (D) No Response from Candidate

Magisterial District Court Judge, 15-4-01:

** Incumbent

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