Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Primary Election 2011

The Cost of a Ballot Challenge in Tredyffrin Township . . . $2,614.60 plus posting a bond fee

The closeness of the election results, coupled with reports of voting machine malfunctions, has led to speculation about a possible vote recount in the Duffy-Heaberg special election. As reported on the Chester County’s Department of Voter Services website, the unofficial election results indicate that Democrat Molly Duffy received 2,266 votes and Republican Mike Heaberg received 2,226 votes.

I have received several notices stating that the Republicans were challenging the election results of the special election and calling for a vote recount so . . . I did some investigating in hopes of better understanding the process. First off, I called the Chester County Department of Voter Services. As of 3:30 PM today, Thursday, there has been no ballot challenge petition received for the special election or any other race in Tredyffrin Township. Further, as was explained to me by a voter service staffer, it would be unlikely that such a petition would be received at this point in the election certification process. Why? Here’s what I learned from a Chester County’s voter service staff member on the certification process.

The voter service ‘computation committee’ will meet for the first time tomorrow (Friday) to begin work on the 2011 Primary Election certification process. This committee will take 2-3 days to sort through all the paperwork from the 226 voting precincts in the county (Tredyffrin Township has 17 voting precincts). After sorting the paperwork, the committee begins with write-ins, absentee votes and reconciliation of ballots from each precinct in the county. To complete the certification process will take the computation committee 4-6 weeks. According to the voter services representative, it would be unlikely that someone would challenge the vote count until the certification process is completed. It would appear that a candidate should wait until the election results are certified and pronounced official. I asked if the reported malfunction voting machines would pose an additional time delay and the response was not likely.

Curious, I asked if there was such a thing as an ‘automatic’ recount of votes if the certification process indicated that a race was very close, say just a few votes separating the candidates. The answer was no; there is no automatic recount; regardless of how close the election results.

Next question, how much does it cost to petition for an election recount? I discovered that Chester County Department of Voter Services does not handle the money side of a ballot challenge and I was referred to the Chester County Prothonotary’s Office. I called the Prothonotary’s Office and spoke to Elizabeth Doan, First Deputy. Deputy Doan explained that the fee schedule for a ballot challenge is $153.80 per precinct. Since the Duffy-Heaberg special election was for an at-large township seat, the petition charge is $153.80 for each of Tredyffrin’s 17 precincts or a total cost of $2,614.60. Additionally, there is a bond fee of $50, which the applicant would need to petition to have returned. It was unclear if the $50 bond fee was per precinct or a one-time fee; Doan suggested that I contact an attorney for clarification.

What did I learn from this exercise? It would not appear to make sense to petition for a ballot challenge until after Chester County Department of Voter Services completes its certification process. The computation committee has to first complete their certifying process before they can do a recount and that would be 4-6 weeks from this point. I was cautioned throughout my conversation with voter service staff that the election result numbers on county website are unofficial until they are certified.

I hope that this clarifies the ballot challenge process and offers a timeline for the election results certification and the cost of a petition process in Chester County.

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

Countdown to Primary Day, May 17 . . . Presenting Tredyffrin Supervisor Candidate Resumes

The Pennsylvania Primary Election is 30 days from tomorrow — Tuesday, May 17, 2011. As was previously announced on April 11, I will provide all the candidates resumes on Community Matters using the following schedule. I hope that by providing in-depth information on local candidates will encourage increased voter turnout for the Pennsylvania Primary Election. Historically, voter turnout in Tredyffrin Township has been low for the Primary Election, (particularly in a non-presidential year) — here’s hoping that trend changes next month.

In Pennsylvania, only registered Republican and Democratic voters are permitted to vote in the Primary Election. As a reminder, this year in addition to the Primary Election, there is a Special Election in Tredyffrin Township — Independents, as well as Republican and Democrats can vote in the Special Election race.

The Special Election will fill the vacancy in the office of the Board of Supervisors caused by the resignation of Warren Kampf. The vacancy was temporarily filled by the interim supervisor appointment of Mike Heaberg. As required by the Township’s Home Rule Charter and the Pennsylvania Election Code, a Special Election will be held and voters will choose between incumbent Mike Heaberg (R) and Molly Duff (D). The individual elected will fill the remainder of the supervisor term, ending on December 31, 2011.

  • Monday, April 25: Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisor Candidates
  • Monday, May 2: Tredyffrin-Easttown School Board Candidates
  • Monday, May 9: Chester County Magisterial District Judge, District Court 15-4-01 Candidates
  • Wednesday, May 11: Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisors Special Election Candidates
  • Tuesday, May 17: Pennsylvania 2011 Primary

According to the schedule above, today is for the Board of Supervisor candidates. I have received resumes or bios on each of the candidates listed — click on the candidate’s name and the link will take you directly to the individual candidates information.

I encourage you to review the information that the candidates have provided and welcome your thoughtful comments.

Tredyffrin Township Board of Supervisor Candidates:

** Incumbent

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