The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

May 10, 2014

County officials seek fix in ballot change

MERCER COUNTY — A last-minute court ruling that kicked Republican Robert Guzzardi off the ballot in the primary election in the race for governor has left county officials scrambling to make sure voters get the message.

Director of Elections Jeff Greenburg told commissioners Thursday he wants to do all he can to comply “with the spirit of the law,” but there isn’t enough time before the May 20 primary to get the voting machines reprogrammed.

Instead, Greenburg said he would post letter-sized notifications about Guzzardi on each machine and at the registration tables in the polling places so “hopefully there won’t be any voter who isn’t aware that he is no longer eligible on the ballot.”

Guzzardi’s name will not be covered on the voting machines, but on absentee, provisional, specimen and emergency ballots, he said. Greenburg said it isn't possible to cover the name on the electronic touchscreens.

Poll workers, however, won’t be commenting or answering questions regarding the notice about Guzzardi, because that would be an infraction of election law, he said. “Poll workers have been instructed to just advise people to read the notice. They aren’t going to discuss anything beyond what it says,” Greenburg said.

For any votes already cast for Guzzardi by absentee ballot, those votes will be counted as write-ins, he said.

The timeliness of the state Supreme Court’s decision was “a very difficult thing for us and left us trying to do what we think is best for the voter,” Greenburg said.

Commissioner Chairman John Lechner said he agreed with Greenburg’s proposed resolution. “To try and send the machines back now to be reprogrammed could jeopardize the whole election. We could end up not having machines and having to use paper ballots. There just isn’t enough time.”

“And if someone decides to vote for him anyway, that vote will be counted as a write-in. That does not disenfranchise the voters. People can put any name in they want for a write-in,” Lechner said.

Guzzardi’s removal on May 1 leaves Gov. Tom Corbett as the lone Republican candidate on the ballot. The court removed Guzzardi, of Montgomery County, from the ballot because it said his election paperwork filings possessed a “fatal” defect by missing the deadline to file financial information with the state’s Ethics Committee.

Greenburg said all of the county’s voting machines were ready and will be delivered to polling sites next week.

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