County Election Boards Prepare for April Primary

Mar 5, 2012

The rejected state House and Senate redistricting maps aren't the only things upending the election process and affecting this year's candidates. County boards of elections are preparing for the April primary, and some say they're noticing an inordinate number of ballot challenges.

But Ron Ruman, spokesman for the Department of State, said that may be due to various unique circumstances this year. He pointed to the two incumbent Democratic Congressmen, Mark Critz and Jason Altmire, running against each other in the newly drawn 12th U.S. House district, and to the number of candidates vying for the seat of retiring Republican Congressman Todd Platts.

"There are a number of districts where there are multiple candidates who filed in the primary," said Ruman. "There's a situation where one candidate has been convicted of a crime and not yet sentenced."

That last one refers to Democratic Representative Bill DeWeese, who was found guilty last month of theft, conspiracy, and conflict of interest. A judge denied a challenge to his candidacy this week.

Meanwhile, counties must now plan to hold special elections for the six vacant state House districts on the April 24th primary. The state House Speaker has announced he'll issue the writs of election as per the state Supreme Court's four-to-three ruling that he do so. He says the order indicates an activist majority pursuing its own agenda.

Monica Dutko is the director of elections for Adams County. She said she's still not ruling out a sudden curveball, such as two primaries: one for state legislative district races and one for elections on the federal level.

"If they do a second election, we may not have poll workers that are available, we may not having polling locations available, you know for a second primary," said Dutko. "We'll just have to see, you know. It's not an easy fix. You know, they can't just change the date and expect all the logistics to fall into place."

Still, another county director of elections said the chance of a delayed or split primary grows more remote by the day.