ShareThis Page

Trib editorial: Monessen's election meltdown underscores a broader lesson

| Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017, 9:57 a.m.
Monessen Mayor Lou Mavrakis
Monessen Mayor Lou Mavrakis
Matt Shorraw won the endorsement of the Westmoreland County Democratic Committee over the incument candidate for mayor.
Submitted
Matt Shorraw won the endorsement of the Westmoreland County Democratic Committee over the incument candidate for mayor.

What a sorry mess in Monessen. A routine municipal election in an off year descended into confusion Tuesday and ultimately led to a judge's order to sequester absentee ballots simply because the law was not followed.

Therein lies a broader lesson, unfortunately rendered at the inconvenience of Monessen's voters.

As a result, there initially was no winner in the city's mayoral race, or any other Monessen races for that matter, because a Westmoreland County judge Tuesday night impounded up to 307 absentee ballots until a hearing. This, after it came to light that the county's election bureau granted absentee ballots based solely on age (for people 65 and over) when age, alone, is not a qualifying reason under state law.

So Democrat Matt Shorraw, who won the spring primary by a slim 59 votes against incumbent Mayor Lou Mavrakis, filed an emergency injunction late Tuesday. He subsequently dropped his legal challenge after declaring victory over Mr. Mavrakis, who launched a write-in campaign and encouraged absentee ballots.

Fault lies with the election bureau, which reportedly has granted absentee ballots based only on a person's age for years. And the supposed “fix” — encouraging absentee-ballot filers to, in effect, vote twice by also voting at the polls, then straightening things out afterward — doesn't pass the sniff test.

This is the unfortunate consequence when clearly delineated laws are free-lanced or otherwise abridged, regardless of the intention. People expect their public officials to know the law and abide by it. It shouldn't have taken a meltdown on Election Day to drive home this elemental point.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.