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Race for 3rd Fayette commissioner's seat down to 44 ballots

| Thursday, Nov. 24, 2011

The race for the third commissioner seat in Fayette County is down to 44 ballots that won't be counted for at least another week.

Incumbent Republican Angela Zimmerlink leads challenger Dave Lohr by 12 votes, according to unofficial results from the Nov. 8 election.

Yet to be counted are 31 absentee ballots and 13 provisional ballots. The 44 ballots were accepted by the election board during hearings that were held Friday and Wednesday, but they will not be counted until after the names of the absentee voters are released to allow for any challenges, said Larry Blosser, election bureau director.

The names will be released at 10 a.m. Monday. Anyone who wishes to challenge the absentee ballots will have until 2 p.m. Dec. 1 to do so, according to a motion passed yesterday by the board. In the event any of the ballots are challenged, the election board will meet at 10 a.m. Dec. 5 to consider the challenges.

Blosser said although any unchallenged absentee ballots will be opened at 2 p.m. Dec. 1, he does not plan to count them or the provisionals until after the challenge period expires.

Among the 31 absentee ballots that the board accepted yesterday were 10 that were postmarked by the Nov. 4 deadline, but sat at the Uniontown Post Office until past the deadline. Blosser said they were received by the election bureau on Nov. 8.

The board voted to accept the ballots even though they weren't in the election bureau's possession on Nov. 4 because they were postmarked by the deadline and were at the Uniontown post office. Mark Mehalov, board member, noted that for the week prior to the election, the bureau receives its mail at that post office.

For the same reason, the board accepted six absentee ballots that were postmarked Nov. 3, but not received by the election bureau until either Nov. 7 or Nov. 8. Sheryl Heid, solicitor for the election board, said it could not be determined whether the ballots were received on the 7th or the 8th.

Of the remaining absentee ballots, the board took no action on some, but rejected others. Of those that were rejected, most were postmarked after Nov. 4. Of the others, 10 were not signed by the voters or had illegible postmarks.

In addition to the absentee ballots, the board reviewed seven provisional ballots, accepting all but one. It had previously accepted seven of a total of 16 provisional ballots that were cast on Election Day, bringing the total to 13.

Provisional ballots are given to voters who are not listed on a precinct's voter roster because they might have moved, gotten married and forgotten to change their last name, or they appeared at the wrong precinct.

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