Pattye Benson

Community Matters

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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  1. Pattye —

    According to the County’s official website, the unofficial margin is 8 votes, not 40.

    There seems to be a lot of confusion here now b/t the unofficial margin you report and the voting machine issues.

    I hope the County explains what’s going on and fixes it so the public knows.

    1. Really? Unofficial margin is 8 votes not 40. I guess I don’t understand because the county website shows the difference as 40. You are right that this needs to be more fully understood and explained.

      1. I was just on the Chesco results page and it lists 2266 vs 2226.

        Still 40 votes, unoffically

  2. Sorry, no.

    If you go through the precincts on the website and add them up one-by-one, they come to 2242 to 2250 – 8 votes.

    But if you look at totals, that is 40 votes.

    Again, more confusion

    1. That’s exactly what I did.

      W-1 140 121
      W-2 226 290
      W-3 95 76
      W-4 80 108
      W-5 188 233
      M-1 53 81
      M-2 142 158
      M-3 131 97
      M-4 184 164
      M-5 159 94
      M-6 178 138
      M-7 37 41
      E-1 100 99
      E-2 116 117
      E-3 90 126
      E-4 128 102
      E-5 179 221

      TOTAL 2226 2266

      1. The M-2 numbers at the midnight run were reversed from what is now reported for Heaberg/Duffy, which accounts for the 8 vs. 40 vote difference.

  3. The official unofficial count looks like a 40 vote margin for Molly Duffy. Molly had very aggressive (and I don’t mean that as negative) representation at my polling place while Mike’s seemed far more complacent (and I do mean that as negative). I always wonder if making the voters run the gauntlet of volunteers handing out flyers makes a difference. Maybe it did in this case.

  4. It’s over. The one thing that is positive is that someone was elected and not anointed this time. The real campaign starts now for Heaberg and Duffy. Congrats to both for their efforts for Tredyffrin.

    Unless I missed something all 17 precincts were certified by voter services.

    1. Actually the votes have not yet been certified. Apparently, it will take approximately 2 weeks for the process to be completed. It is my understanding that Heaberg be the sitting supervisor for Monday, May 23, BOS meeting and public hearing for the historic preservation ordinance change.

  5. My fifth grader told me, “Hey, somebody called and you have until 8 pm to vote! Please go vote!” I did–and I’m happy to see that my vote meant something! WOW! A supervisor who is not of the same party! Go Molly Duffy! Like you say, somebody was elected and not anointed.

    I have to say that at my polling place, Tredyffrin Library, there were “carpet baggers” not even from my area including one who was urging me to vote for “your neighbor, Paul Oson.” I said, “I know all about Mr. Olson and the Tredyffrin Library.” The person acted like that was a huge compliment! I just shook my head in disbelief as I walked into the polls.

  6. John,

    Yes, there were under-votes in all races, but the problem raised here is not an under-vote issue. We are not talking about a discrepancy between the number of ballots cast and the number of votes recorded in any given race. Rather, we are talking about a discrepancy between the number of ballots that the scanner thinks were inserted into it (517) and the the number of ballots that actually were inside the machine when we hand-counted them at the end of the night (522). In every past election that I have worked, those numbers were identical — that is, the scanner knew how many paper ballots actually were inside it. Not this time. Another data point: If memory serves (I do not have the books in front of me — they were returned to the County), 524 people signed in to vote. So the number of voters reported on the unofficial results (519) cannot be correct. We made Voter Services aware of the problem and they are investigating.

    Steve Shapiro
    Judge of Elections, Tredyffrin W-2

    1. Two voters asked to vote on the electronic voting machine. Those voters were not issued paper ballots.

    2. 524 voters came in and were issued ballots (522 paper and 2 electronic). The results posted on the County webpage say that only 519 ballots were cast. This means that the ENTIRE BALLOTS of 5 voters have not been counted at all — for any race. I assume the County will solve this problem by simply re-scanning the ballots. When the final, certified vote totals eventually are released, we will see numbers different than those posted today. The final results will show that 524 ballots were cast and will show slight differences in the vote totals for the various races. I doubt it will make a difference in the outcome of any race, but at least the vote of every person who voted will have been counted.

      1. John — To answer your question, the electronic votes are not transferred to the scanner. We print out a separate result tape from each machine and send them back to the County in separate envelopes. Both machines also have separate memory cards on which the votes are recorded. We remove those cards and send them back to the County in separate envelopes as well.

        While I agree with you that small discrepancies often can be a normal part of the process, we never before have experienced an equipment malfunction like this one where the scanner did not have an accurate count of how many ballot were inside it. I hope that the County is able to figure out and correct the problem before the next election. I do not want to have to deal with this again.

        Finally, lest there be any misunderstanding, I want to make clear that this supposed 8 vote Township-wide margin figure did not come from me. I only know about my precinct, W2, and even if all 5 non-counted ballots contain votes for Heaburg, Duffy still would have won W2 by 59 votes.

  7. I made a mistake on my ballot by writing in a name in the wrong place, so I crossed that out and wrote it in the proper space. I asked the attendant if I needed to fill out a new ballot and he said only if the reader didn’t register the ballot (which it did).

    I then asked if he was sure that my choices would be recorded properly, and he said it didn’t really matter – he told me that all of the ballots are examined and the votes re-tabulated manually. Can this be true?

    1. “I’ll say it again, the folks that run our polls do a great job. Most of them have done this for a while. Do folks really think, all of a sudden, the wheels on the bus fell off???”

      By and large, they do a great (and thankless) job. That’s not the point. The point is that there was some sort of mechanical failure. Even if the differential is 40 votes, if slightly more than 2 votes per precinct across the township weren’t counted, the result might be different.

      If the outcome is so certain, why hasn’t the Duffy campaign declared victory?

      1. “Even if the differential is 40 votes, if slightly more than 2 votes per precinct across the township weren’t counted, the result might be different.

        That’s a lot of ifs….”

        Nope. Just two. And they go to the same premise. Right now, there’s no one that can definitively say to what extent the mechanical problems affected the outcome of this election. Every voter that took the time to cast their ballot should be heard from; every vote cast should count. Can’t see why anyone would have a problem with this.

      2. “There were major problems with some machines in 2009…and you didn’t hear boo about it. Why is this year any different?”

        Because the unofficial results are much, much closer.

        “That said, if somebody wants a recount, fine..that’s their right. Right now…this is like worrying about how you are going to navigate Boston traffic when you are still in Philadelphia. Too early…too premature.”

        Unless you have some notion of when you’re expecting to arrive in Boston. Then it’s called prudence.

      3. I find it hilarious that mr petersen says molly duffy not declaring victory means nothing when so many times he uses the “they won’t deny” or “they won’t say anything” argument as his damning evidence against whomever he is attacking at the time.

        Apparently that only counts as evidence when it suits his purpose of attacking the many people he obviously despises.

      4. “you can bet that if it was Broadhurst with the 40 vote margin right now, he’d be declaring victory.”

        Because that would be the smart thing to do. Win or lose, it’s still amateur hour over at the Duffy camp.

        BTW, I thought your statement that they weren’t declaring victory be cause they were “making transition plans” (as if she were running for President instead of township supervisor) was just adorable.

  8. Pattye:

    Near the end of your remarks, you ask whether absentee ballots are included in the totals. As inspector in M6, I can address this question.

    Yes, they are. Prior to “closing” the M100 scanner, election officials must check the absentee ballots for some things:
    1. Did the absentee voter show up and vote in person? If he did, it makes the absentee ballot invalid, and it is returned unopened to Voter Services.
    2. Does the signature on the outside absentee ballot envelope match the signature in the Poll Book?

    If the answer to 1 is no and to 2 is yes, i.e., the voter did not show up in person and the signature matches, the election officials then feed those ballots into the scanner, just as the other voters fed theirs.

    After the absentee ballots are read, the closing procedure is performed, which eventually prints out the preliminary results tapes that get posted in the polling place. Absentee ballots are included, without their results being separated. The only way one could tell absentee ballots from in-person ballots, is that the absentee ballots are folded to fit into their envelopes, but they scan perfectly well.

    In creating the document “General Returns of Votes Cast,” which is part of the package of results taken to Voter Services, the Judge of Election reconciles all the paper ballots–matching the number originally supplied with the total of those cast, the absentees, and the spoiled ballots (which are also returned to Voter Services).

  9. Eight or 40 vote difference… no matter which one it is a disgrace that the turnout was so light, even in lousy weather. For those who are disillusioned by politics, it seems the best place to make a dent in the outcome is on the local level, where the impact is most closely held.

    We are losing something. Is it at the parent/family level? Are schools not encouraging the vote in civics/social studies classes? Unfortunate either way

  10. The election to watch this November will be the race for MAGISTERIAL DISTRICT JUDGE of DISTRICT 15-4-01. The primary results should be a wakeup call to incumbent Jeremy Blackburn because the numbers pose a dire warning for him.

    Since this was a District Justice race, Blackburn and his opponent, Analisa Sondergaard, were able to cross file and run in both primaries. Predictably, Blackburn (the Republican backed candidate) won the Republican Primary, and Sondergaard (the Democratic backed candidate) won the Democratic Primary. The bad news for Blackburn becomes apparent when you analyze the results.

    While more Republican voters cast ballots than Democrats (1,042 Republican vs. 916 Democrats), the combined results from both races reveal that Sondergaard won the most votes (1,046 vs. 912).

    Even more troubling for Blackburn lies in the fact that Sondergaard received 29% of the Republican vote. By contrast, Blackburn only won 18% of the Democratic Vote.

    Unless Blackburn gets off his judicial bench and starts campaigning, it will be Analisa Sondergaard who will be addressed as Your Honor next year.

    1. John,

      Agree 100%. I voted for Analisa & told any R who asked my opinion to vote fo her too.

  11. One has to wonder why Tred repubs are so desperate to not only hold onto the board of sup but to require all repub rule. What are they doing that requires one party rule?

    Also wondering if Tred dems overplayed their hand here. Was it worth the sure wrath of repubs in nov (no doubt they will go over the top negative now) to win a spec election for a few months? for someone who was an indep not that long ago (so I hear)? seems to me it hurts other candidates in nov. time will tell.

    interesting races.

    1. “One has to wonder why Tred repubs are so desperate to not only hold onto the board of sup but to require all repub rule. What are they doing that requires one party rule?”

      Just to satisfy your paranoia, how would it be if the township Republicans just let the Ds run unopposed until they had three seats, no, how about a majority of the Board? Would that be fair or just stupid?

      This persistent argument about “one party rule” is as asinine as it is tiresome.

  12. Christine,

    According to that link you posted, it was Heaberg who put out that 8 vote difference & said he would ask for recount. But that had to be prior to W5 results (last as usual) posted by Voter Services. If, in fact, the TTGOP had all the precinct numbers, someone on the campaign couldn’t add correctly. I think it was close to midnight when all the Tredyffrin results were posted.

    As JP posted, there will be no recount. If I’m proven wrong, I will think very negatively about the TTGOP & their actions. As JP wrote, get ready for Nov. They’ll be going on the attack. Let’s hope Kristen Mayock remains above the fray.

    Another point, can’t believe Kristen’s vote total was less than Mike’s.

    1. Heaberg spent thousands and had the full force of TTRC behind him. Duffy spent thousands and had the full force of the TTDems behind her. Both were out there and worked hard. What did Mayock spend? Was she out there? What did TTRC do for her? Not much from what I saw.
      Do you think the outcome would have been different if TTRC picked her over Heaberg?
      I don’t know the answer.

      1. Rs were voting for 2 candidates to run in November; so both will be on the ballot w/Molly Duffy. Kristen didn’t have to expend too much on the primary. She has managed to “keep her powder dry & can come out firing” in the fall. I just happen to think Kristen is the better choice over Heaberg, as I indicated earlier this year.

        This supervisor-at-large race should prove very interesting in addition to the DJ race. Oh yes, we mustn’t forget the Snyder/Olson supervisor race in the east. I can’t remember the last time I’ve looked forward to a township general election outcome! Let the games begin.

        1. In addition to Heaberg (R), Mayock (R) and Duffy (D), there is another at-large candidate, Ernie Falcone (D). All 4 candidates will participate in general election in November with the 2 open BOS seats going to the top 2 highest vote getters.

      2. Kristen would truly benefit from distancing herself from the Heaberg campaign leading into November – throw away all of the Heaberg/Mayock signs. And Molly should get rid of the Duffy/Falcone signs too… if any exist.

        Kristen and Molly need to work to educate the voters that the tickets can be split in Nov – Heaberg and Falcone are liabilities to their individual efforts.

        1. In the Republican primary, Heaberg got more votes than Mayock in virtually every precinct. Just an FYI. It means nothing going forward. They are very compatible and as Mr. Heaberg said in his comments (on Main Line Media site) on election night, he ran this campaign as he has run his life — professionally and personally. He never referred to Ms. Duffy as his opponent — simply the other candidate. When all is said and done, we are still in Tredyffrin, and the BOS needs 4 votes. I look forward to watching them work together.

  13. “Oh yes, we mustn’t forget the Snyder/Olson supervisor race in the east. I can’t remember the last time I’ve looked forward to a township general election outcome! Let the games begin.”

    This is what’s wrong with our town, our state and our contry. “games”??? At what cost?

  14. The M-2 numbers at the midnight run were reversed from what is now reported for Heaberg/Duffy, which accounts for the 8 vs. 40 vote difference.

    158 vs 142

    1. I had the votes as of 11:41and M-2 was reversed. Why do you want to berate any and everything? Who are you in this drama but a bystander who if I remember said he wasn’t voting?

      1. I am curious PC Watcher — did you get the reversed numbers from the county website at 11:41 or from another source? As the votes were counted and turned in, the county website was updated, so I am wondering if this is where the error occurred? Thanks for any information you can offer — Pattye

    2. I guess I have to say that John Petersen is right — that he’s always right. That even when he isn’t right, he thinks he is so why bother.

      I must have transposed the numbers. 3 people were working together and checking each number, and double checking, but all 3 of us must have transposed the number. No other explanation.

      From the West, who I don’t know, also had the wrong numbers.

      From now on, why ask anyone but John Petersen? He takes no pleasure in any reality but his own.

      Thank you for your efforts here Mrs. Benson. John Petersen said he was done, but since he just wont’ go away, and always says anything someone doesn’t deny must be true, I will deny that I can tolerate him any longer. I am new to this board, but shortlived indeed.

      1. PC Watcher — I hope that you will reconsider.

        Community does matter, all of it and all people in it. I place a very real importance on a town hall type of forum, a place where people feel comfortable to express their views. I want everyone to feel welcome, regardless of how far to the left or to the right the views . . .but particularly, for those of us who lie somewhere in the middle. I contend the only way to really learn from one another and to evolve, is to listen to others points of view; and to respect their right to make their point. I do not want anyone who takes the time to comment on Community Matters to feel that their opinion is less important or less valid than someone else. It is just that, his or her opinion.

        Personally, I ask to be corrected if I miss-state facts or miss-interpret a situation — it is certainly not my intention to mislead or confuse.

        At the end of the day, this is OUR community and I hate to see OUR community further divided.

  15. Notice how sanguine John Petersen is about the voting. We won and thats all there is to it. Typical.

  16. . I contend the only way to really learn from one another and to evolve, is to listen to others points of view; and to respect their right to make their point.

    I agree, but I have seem far too many examples of Mr. Petersen not abiding or agreeing by this simple premise. Those who disagree are berated, implied to be stupid, treated to vulgarity (or thinly veiled vulgarity).

    He continues to insist on trying to guess people’s identities despite your requests not to — and even when the people tell him he is wrong (myself included) on his guess.

    Your blog has been high-jacked too often and you have been treated disrespectfully because of it. Even when he says he will stop (or leave) he does not.

    I feel bad for you Pattye, and for those who have been attacked, maligned or otherwise degraded by him.

    With all this said, you have the power to fix/stop this and you don’t, so some of this seems to go outside your statement above.

    1. I hear you and I want this to work. It is so time-consuming to write the posts and manage the site as the administrator for Community Matters, that I probably fall short on the editing side. I admit that there are times with the volume of comments (and the challenges of balancing the rest of my life!) that I don’t read as closely as I should.

      Here’s to making another appeal for all those that read Community Matter and then choose to comment – – – to please try and be respectful. Personal attacks are hurtful, unnecessary and don’t accomplish much of anything. This appeal is for everyone — please respect me and the time; I’m asking for a bit of cooperation. Please.

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