York County Commissioner sent a letter to Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley asking him to reschedule a March 18, 2014 Special. The election is for the 28th District Senate seat vacated by Mike Waugh.
“I respectfully ask Lieutenant Governor Cawley to move the special election to Primary Day May 20, 2014,” said Reilly. “The Department of State has estimated that the election will cost upwards of $200,000. We are currently compiling estimates for reimbursement for York County. That estimate currently lies at $100,000.”
Commissioner Reilly said the costs to hold two elections seven weeks apart doesn’t benefit the county. “There are only 13 session days in that seven-week time span. If you break that down from a financial perspective, that’s about $15,000 per session that the taxpayers are going to be paying to have representation in the State Senate. I just don’t see more of a benefit than a cost to York County,” said Reilly.
Reilly said the separate election is placing a huge burden on election officials. “It’s really placing a significant burden on our elections office and we’re concerned we aren’t going to have enough poll workers to man the polls,” said Reilly.
Roughly 700 workers are needed for an election. “Making sure we have adequate staffing is a concern of mine,” said Nikki Suchanic, Director of York County Elections and Voter Registration. “We want to make sure we have all of our 111 polling places up and running. We’ve confirmed 83 are able to host us. There is one polling place that has in fact said no, that they are not available for March 18th. So now we run into the issue of relocating that polling place for the special election. Once you relocate you have to notify all of the registered voters and we typically do that by mail,” said Suchanic.
As far as expected turnout, “We never had a special election that didn’t fall concurrent with a primary or general election. I wouldn’t even be able to speculate what a special election turnout would be,” said Suchanic.
Communications Director for Lt. Governor Cawley, Chad Saylor, said he understands the concern. “Obviously we sympathize with blighted counties. The special elections are a burden to the system. That’s why the law requires that the state reimburses the costs, so they aren’t a burden to the property tax payers, but to the state,” said Saylor.
Saylor said the seat needs to be filled. “Less than two weeks from today the governor is going to unveil his 27 billion dollar state budget, and our belief that the people of that senate district deserve to have a senator in place as soon as possible to be a part of that process,” said Saylor.
In his letter Commissioner Reilly asked Lt. Governor Cawley to follow a precedent set last year when State Representative Eugene DePasquale resigned his house seat last year. That special election was help on Primary Day 2013.
Saylor said the circumstances are different.
“The commissioner mentioned in his letter the situation with Auditor General DePasquale. York County has seven members in their State House Delegation, but this seat is the only Senate District contained entirely in York county. It is unique and that’s why it is so important for those folks to have representation,” said Saylor.
County leaders will pick the nominees in the special election. The person elected in the special election will serve out the remainder of the term.