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Primary write-in votes will be counted by Monday

Chantell McCurdy, election bureau director for Butler County, shows where the public can drop off ballots at the bureau’s new main entrance area at 227 W. Cunningham St. Shane Potter/Butler Eagle

The county election board resolved a lawsuit filed by primary election candidates by agreeing to count all write-in votes that could impact the results of the May 16 primary.

The resolution was worked out before a Thursday, June 1, hearing began before Common Pleas Court Senior Judge Robert Yeatts.

Yeatts signed consent orders containing the resolutions to the suits brought by David J. McMaster, a Republican candidate for Middlesex Township supervisor, and Rinaldo Zampogna III, an incumbent Democratic Buffalo Township supervisor.

McMaster and his attorney, Charles Pascal, and Zampogna’s attorney, Brian Farrington, said they were pleased with the resolution. Zampogna did not attend the hearing.

“It’s the right decision,” said election board solicitor Chris Furman. All valid votes should be counted, he added.

Write-in votes from 157 primary races will be counted, he said.

Chantell McCurdy, election bureau director, said write-in votes will not be counted in races where not enough were cast to impact the results.

During the brief hearing, Furman told Yeatts that the computation board decided not to count write-in votes in races in which candidates cannot cross-file to run for both party nominations.

The election board discussed the dispute and agreed that votes should be counted, Furman said.

He said a candidate has to receive at least 10 write-in votes for the vote to count. That is the same number of signatures candidates are required to have on their nominating petitions to enter the primary.

The three-person computation board will begin Friday counting more than 8,000 write-in votes and will continue through the weekend until all are counted to complete the count by Monday, Furman said.

The results have to be certified and sent to the state by the end of the day Monday, he said.

Counting will take place in the Election Bureau’s former offices in the basement level of the Butler County Government Center because the new office on West Cunningham Street is filled with election equipment, he said.

McMaster’s suit seeks to require the board to canvass, count, compute and tabulate the write-in votes and certify the person who received the most as the Democratic nominee.

He ran unsuccessfully against incumbent Robert Brash for the Republican nomination for the one supervisor’s position in Middlesex that was open in the primary, but he argued in the suit that he may have received enough write-in votes in the Democratic primary to earn that party’s nomination.

No candidates ran for the Democratic nomination, but Democratic voters cast 56 write-in votes. Of those votes, 34 were cast at the polls, and 22 were submitted through absentee or mail-in ballots, according to election results.

Zampogna, the Buffalo supervisors’ chairman, was not challenged in the primary and won the Democratic nomination.

In his suit, Zampogna claimed the election board confirmed that he received enough write-in votes to earn the Republican nomination, but his name did not appear on the list of successful write-in candidates.

His suit requested a recanvassing of the write-in votes received in the township and tabulation of the results without regard for membership in the nominating party.

Two supervisors’ positions were open in the Buffalo Township primary.

No one challenged incumbent Matthew Sweeney, who won the Republican nomination. Of the 55 write-in votes from Republican voters, 47 were cast at the polls, and eight came from absentee or mail-in ballots.

The suit argues that the primary ballot directions instructed voters to vote for two candidates, but only one candidate’s name appeared on the Republican ballot.

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