Washington County experienced a better turnout that usual for an off-year election, which was expected with the government study commission question being placed on the ballot.
Elections Director Melanie Ostrander said the county saw a 36.53% turnout rate with 51,931 total votes cast, including 11,436 mail-in and absentee ballots. Only 59 mail-in ballots were rejected, most of which were uncounted because they weren’t placed in the secrecy envelope, or there were markings on them.
The turnout rate was significantly higher than a similar off-year election in 2017 when only 25.69% of the electorate showed up to vote.
The elections board certified the results Thursday and sent them to the state by Monday’s deadline, Ostrander said. A state-ordered recount of the Commonwealth Court race was completed last week and found identical results to the original count, Ostrander said.
But now the county has numerous local races in which it still needs to break ties. The most significant one is for Bentleyville Borough Council, where Republican Jason A. Cole and Democrat Stanley A. Glowaski are tied with 257 votes for the final seat. They’ll have to draw numbered balls during the casting of lots at 12 p.m. Tuesday in the Courthouse Square county office building.
So, too, will numerous candidates in smaller races across Washington County for municipal auditor, constable, tax collector or precinct judges of elections. Ostrander said those candidates who will need to break ties are being notified and will be required to report to the elections office, or they can send a proxy in their place.
The turnout in Greene County was even higher with 37.38% of registered voters showing up for the election.
A total of 8,227 votes were cast, including 1,764 mail-in and absentee ballots, Elections Director Judy Snyder said. A total of 60 mail-in and absentee ballots were not counted for various reasons, Snyder said.
Several municipal races ended in ties – including for Greensboro Borough Council – and the winners were selected during the casting of lots Nov. 19. Snyder said the winning candidates were then sent letters asking them to either accept or reject the positions. She declined to reveal the winners until after they accepted the positions.
All races in the county were certified Nov. 15, except for the Commonwealth Court race, which took two days to recount and was certified Nov. 19.
Meanwhile, Fayette County’s elections board is expected to certify its county and local election results today after having to tabulate “numerous” write-in votes, some of which led to ties in municipal races.
Elections Director MaryBeth Kuznik said no council, mayoral or supervisor races were tied from people who were on the ballot, but there were several other races, such as auditor, tax collector or constable that need to be decided by casting of lots to break the tie.
That is expected to happen next week as the candidates are notified of the tiebreaking process and asked to visit the elections office to “cast lots” to decide a winner, which could happen Tuesday.
But the certification is taking longer than expected for the local races because of the vast number of write-in candidates that needed to be manually counted by the elections staff. Kuznik said her theory is it was more than previous elections because candidates did not want to go door-knocking before the May primary to collect signatures for their petitions over concerns of COVID-19.
“It takes time, and in this election for whatever reason – maybe because of COVID – they didn’t do their (primary) petitions … not as many people filed as usual. So they said, ‘I’ll just do a write-in.’ But it takes us longer to get that (counted),” she said.
While Kuznik expects county and local races to be certified today, one race in the county is being challenged for a recount, which will delay it from being finalized. Only one vote in the Menallen Township auditor race separates Republican Bernard F. Sandrosky Jr., who received 392 votes, from Democrat Rita J. Yantko. Yantko petitioned the Court of Common Pleas in Fayette County for a recount, although it was not immediately known when that would occur.
The results from statewide elections were certified by Monday’s deadline for those races. Overall, Fayette County experienced a 30.25% turnout with 23,982 total ballots cast, including 5,468 mail-in and absentee ballots. Of those ballots, only “a very small amount” was rejected and uncounted, mostly due to voters not placing the ballot in its secrecy envelope before placing it in the mailing envelope, Kuznik said.