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Fayette district judge candidate claims irregularities in May primary

| Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 1:11 a.m.

Soni Shaner Mancuso, who was a candidate for district judge in Fayette County, told the Fayette County Election Board on Tuesday, she found irregularities and some human errors made during the May 21 primary.

Shaner Mancuso lost to Richard Kasunic II in her bid for the office in a consolidation of districts represented by District Judges Jesse Cramer and Dwight Shaner. Shaner is Shaner Mancuso's father.

Some of the errors Shaner Mancuso discussed Tuesday included write-in voters receiving the wrong ballot for their political party, pencils being used to write in the voting books and voting lists when pens should have been used and books showing a different number of Republican votes for a ward when the totals show a different number.

“This is wrong and people have to be held accountable,” she said. “What can be done?”

Fayette County Commissioner Angela Zimmerlink asked Fayette County Election Bureau Director Larry Blosser if it would be possible to make certain that his office provide enough training days prior to an election and go over everything with poll workers to try to avoid similar mistakes.

While the judges of election and the poll workers are not mandated to attend the training days, Zimmerlink said the board and the bureau should do their best to encourage them to attend.

Zimmerlink said there was plenty of blame to go around from the board to the bureau to the workers and even to the voters, many of which aren't familiar with the policies or rules when arriving at the polls.

Blosser said some voters will sign the voting book and have their name entered on the voting list, but would leave if the line is too long, or would say they're going to cast a write-in ballot only to decide to take a voting machine if it frees up. He has witnessed a voter fill out a write-in ballot and then place it in his pocket and walk out before he was called back.

Fayette County Commissioner Al Ambrosini said the issue was about training and procedures. He didn't see anything suggesting voter fraud or any legal issues.

“We have to continue to go over the rules, make sure they're easy to read and follow,” Ambrosini said.

Shaner Mancuso said she was not at the hearing to challenge the recount or make an accusation of voter fraud, but she asked the board if she could view the voting books and the voters lists and compare them to the ballots.

Zimmerlink said she will have county Solicitor Sheryl Heid look into the legal code of the request. It may infringe on the privacy rights of the voters.

Shaner Mancuso told the board she would like a refund of the $1,200 she spent on the recount because of the errors she found in the book work. The request was not discussed by the board.

This month's recount showed Shaner Mancuso picking up two paper-ballot votes but did not appear to change the primary results, according to the election bureau.

The recount showed Kasunic, who picked up one vote in the recount, five votes ahead of Shaner Mancuso to claim the Republican nomination in the primary. Kasunic also won the Democratic nomination.

Mark Hofmann is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-626-3539 or mhofmann@tribweb.com.

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