MERCER – Mercer County completed its first election under a new voting system with a few bumps.
Jeff Greenburg, director of the Mercer County Election and Voter Registration Bureau, said Tuesday that optical scan counters had malfunctioned on Election Day, but officials were able to replace both with spare machines.
A second issue delayed release of final unofficial results Tuesday night. After the polls closed, precinct workers were supposed to run absentee ballots through the scanners so they could be counted on election night.
However, the scanners were unable to read some of the folded absentee ballots, which caused the after-poll closure process to take longer than it should have been, Greenburg said. Regardless, he estimated that “99 percent” of the votes cast were counted on election night.
The uncounted absentee ballots will be added to the count in a process that will begin Friday and run for a couple of weeks, ending with final ratification by the Mercer County Election Board.
Election night turnout was 33.84 percent, although that figure could increase as the remaining absentee ballots and military ballots are counted during the ratification process.
The county’s 69,639 votes counted on election night included 7,504 straight-party votes – 4,563 Republican and 2,941 Democrat. That 1,622-vote difference between the two might have provided a crucial margin Tuesday in what was arguably Mercer County’s most important race.
In the vote for Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge, Ronald Amrhein finished first with 14,758 votes, followed by state Rep Tedd Nesbit, R-8th, Grove City, who had 11,838 votes. Both are in line to take places in January on the county bench. Margaret Lucas finished third after collecting 10,160.
In the May primary, Amrhein won Republican and Democratic nominations. Nesbit won a Republican nomination and Lucas claimed a Democratic nomination. In the general election, Amrhein received straight-party votes from both parties. Nesbit received only Republican straight-party votes and Lucas took only the Democratic ones.
Lucas fell short by 1,678, and the straight-party vote gap accounted for almost all of that margin.
County voters retained county Commissioners Matt McConnell, Scott Boyd and Tim McGonigle.
None of the other row officers faced opposition Tuesday. District Attorney Pete Acker, Sheriff-elect Bruce Rosa, Clerk of Courts-elect Mary Jo Basilone-DePreta, Coroner John Libonati, Prothonotary Ruth Bice and Recorder Dee Dee Zickar all won election, according to unofficial results. Libonati received the most votes of any candidate on the ballot, 21,584
The county posted unofficial results for these races Tuesday:
• Greenville School Board — Mary Reames (D/R), 1,407; Richard Rossi (D/R), 1,255; Richard Powers (D/R), 1,151; Nathan Gibson (D/R), 1,112; Dan Eppley (D), 794; and John Forbes (R), 1,361 running for five seats.
• Lakeview School Board — Scott Lewis (D/R), 1,338; Jimmy Lee Arbogast (D/R), 1,253; Steven Beggs (D/R), 1,220; David Pears (D/R), 1,147; Gage Bartholomew (D/R) 1,231; and Chuck Greggs (Independent), 845 running for five seats.
• Clark borough council — Clark Eberhardt (D), 89; Douglas Robbins (D), 87; Michael Yeatts (D/R),100; and Cameron McConahy (R), 91 running for three seats.
• Coolspring Township supervisor (one six-year term) — Richard Filer (D), 166; and Dale Bestwick (R), 325.
• Delaware Township supervisors (one six-year term) — John Lesnett (D), 219; and Daniel Nagel (R), 275.
• French Creek Township supervisors (one six-year term) — John Slemenda Jr. (D) 103; and Jacob Karns (R), 72.
• Greenville Borough Council — Jean Carr (D), 403; Anne Butcher (D), 415; Tracy Beil (D/R), 520; Paul Hamill (R), 483; Sean Hall (R), 452 running for three seats.
• Greenville Borough Council (one two-year term) — Jessica Lynn Grinnell (D), 403; and Tracy Beil (R), 468.
• Greenville Home Rule Charter question – Yes, 471; No, 408.
• Grove City Borough Council, 4th District — Willie Caldwell (D), 110; and Jeffrey Hodge (R), 211 running for one seat.
• Hermitage Commissioners — Duane Piccirilli (D), 2,635; William Moder (D), 2,649; and Michael Muha (D), 2,357. The top two finishers will win four-year terms and the remaining candidate will serve a two-year term.
• Jefferson Township supervisors (one six-year term) — Garth Faulkner (D), 163; and Richard McCullough (R), 289.
• Pymatuning Township supervisors (one six-year term) — John Miller (D), 238; and James Rowe (R), 339.
• South Pymatuning Township supervisors (one six-year term) — Laurel Alexander (D), 225; and Matthew Chalupka (R), 465.
• South Pymatuning Township supervisors (one two-year term) — Laurel Alexander (D), 348; and Matthew Chalupka (R), 333.
• Springfield Township supervisors (one six-year term) — Rick Dillaman (D), 179; and Joseph Mattace (R), 273.
• Sugar Grove Township supervisors (one six-year term) — Timothy Kaltenbaugh (D), 50; and Gordon Riley (R), 161.
• West Middlesex Borough Council — Robert Lark (D), 115; Maleia James (D/R), 88; and Eric Lucich (R),123 running for two seats.