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York County commissioners certify unchallenged election results

Jason Addy
York Dispatch

Three weeks after a technical oversight threw into question the result of multiple elections across York County, the county's three commissioners closed the book on the 2017 election season.

Despite confusion from the oversight in the county’s voting machines, no candidates filed any objections or challenges before noon Monday, Nov. 27, allowing Commissioners Susan Byrnes, Doug Hoke and Chris Reilly to certify the results of all elections held in the county.

York County President Commissioner Susan Byrnes (center) speaks during a meeting Monday, Nov. 27, to certify results of the 2017 municipal election. Also pictured are Commissioners Chris Reilly (left) and Doug Hoke (right). Jason Addy photo.

The oversight — discovered the day before the Nov. 7 municipal election — allowed a single voter to cast multiple votes for a single candidate in races where more than one candidate was elected and candidates had crossfiled.

Potential challenge: Winners in eight races — for seats on the York County Court of Common Pleas, West York Borough Council and numerous school boards — could not be declared until county officials counted the number of “overvotes” cast.

Following that initial recount, only the race for the West York Borough Council was still in question. Nine votes separated the fourth- and fifth-place finishers in a race in which 32 “overvotes” were cast. 

Four-term West York councilwoman Shelly Metzler, who finished nine votes behind Wayne Leedy for the last open seat on the council, told The York Dispatch last week she would challenge the results before they were certified. 

More:West York councilwoman to challenge results of election marred by oversight

More:Voting machine glitch causes confusion in county judge, school board races

More:York County election recount moving forward ahead of schedule

That challenge never materialized, nor did any others, so York County Solicitor Glenn Smith told the three commissioners they could certify the results. 

Metzler could not be reached Monday, Nov. 27, about why she did not file a challenge. 

In the countywide Court of Common Pleas judges election, candidates Kathleen Prendergast and Clyde Vedder received 1,473 and 834 overvotes, respectively, according to the recount.

Even subtracting those overvotes would leave them each with more than twice as many votes as fourth-place finisher Sandra Thompson, according to the election results.

More:York County officials say overvotes didn't affect election results, but numbers tell different story

Third-place finisher Amber Anstine Kraft finished nearly 14,000 votes ahead of Thompson in the four-way race for three seats.

Vedder was at the commissioners’ meeting Monday, Nov. 27, and left shortly after the election results were certified. Vedder will take a seat on the York County Court of Common Pleas in January, alongside Kraft and Prendergast, who has served on the bench since her appointment by Gov. Tom Wolf in July 2016.

Random winners: The commissioners’ certification came after more than a half-hour of officials declaring winners in dozens of elections that ended in ties Nov. 7. 

Each candidate involved in a deadlocked election was given a number at random by Byrnes. Prior to the random drawing, the commissioners decided the candidate with the lowest number in each race would be declared the electoral winner.

Almost all tied elections were races for judge of elections and inspector of elections, though the winners of several borough council seats also were determined through the random drawing Monday, Nov. 27.

Moving forward: Though the technical oversight in the county’s voting machines did not prompt any official challenges to the election results, county officials will continue to work with the Pennsylvania Department of State to ensure the same mistakes are not made during next year’s elections, county spokesman Mark Walters said after the certification.

Walters said the county takes full responsibility for the oversight and absolved the machines’ manufacturer, voting software developer and others involved of any blame.

“It was our fault,” Walters said.

With the mistake now resolved, officials will try to learn all they can from it for future elections, Walters said. 

“Having made this mistake, and now with it behind us, it’s going to give us the experience that will allow us to have this in our periphery moving forward,” Walters said.