York County finds way to determine whether duplicate votes were cast in Tuesday’s election

YORK, Pa. - County officials said Thursday that they have figured out a way to determine whether duplicate votes were cast in eight disputed races in which some, but not all, candidates were listed on the ballot as Democrats and Republicans.

While they would not immediately discount the need for a special election in the disputed races, observers believe this lowers the chance of that happening.

"When we found out about this problem, we weren't sure if that was a possibility," said Mark Walters, the county's communications director. "Of course, in our heads, it was, but if we can just capture the data, that'll be a very very big first step to figuring this out."

Starting Monday, county workers will begin scouring the ballot data in the process of certifying the vote.

In the data, the candidates will be identified by a number rather than by name, Walters explained.

"It's going to be more of a 'You're looking for 783; if you see it twice, highlight it, flag it, [and] there's a double vote for 783,'" Walters said. "Maybe it's a school board candidate; maybe it's a borough council candidate."

The highest-profile race impacted by this problem was the Court of Common Pleas race. Four candidates ran for three positions. Two of the candidates, Kathleen Prendergast and Clyde Vedder, qualified for the ballot as Democrats and Republicans, and because of the problem, voters could have voted for them twice, while only being able to vote for the other candidates once.

"I know they're very pleased with the results," said Alex  Shorb of the York County Republican Committee. "When you look at the numbers of the election, they're very happy, but at the same time, they were hoping Tuesday would be the conclusion of this whole process."

If you do the math and assume that most people followed the rules and voted once in the disputed races, it's hard to see a scenario in which duplicate votes would change results.

The closest impacted race is in Glen Rock Borough, where Andrew Stewart and Lynn Merrick could have received duplicate votes by virtue of qualifying for the ballot as a Democrat and as a Republican. Stewart would have to lose more than 104 votes or Merrick would have to lose more than 77 votes for either to lose the election.

Other races have larger margins. The others are Dover Township supervisor, West York and Central York School boards, and borough councils in Red Lion, West York and North York.

"Based on the results that we saw in this election and in comparison to other elections, it does not appear that there's anything that would change my mind as to what the results were," Shorb said.