Waiting And Waiting On Judge
When Republican candidate for Fayette County Commissioner Dave Lohr filed a court appeal to
overturn the Fayette County Board of Election's rejection of 18 absentee voter ballots, the court
action heard before Judge Ralph Warman, naturally, delayed the naming of a winner in that close
contest with incumbent Angela Zimmerlink.
What Lohr's court motion also did was force the judge to do the work that the Fayette County
Board of Election seems to have failed to do.
No matter how we split hairs about postmark dates on absentee ballots and debate whether the
absentee ballots might have or might not have been received in the Fayette County Election
Bureau by the state required deadline of the Friday before election day -- i.e., if county workers
had picked up the mail -- Warman's decision should hinge on two factors.
Whether there was some formal county declaration to have the Uniontown Post Office named as
the county's recipient of absentee ballots the week prior to elections needs to be proven. Anyone
who has worked in government knows the old saying: If it is not documented, it did not happen.
While some board of commissioners at some time actually may have made such a formal
declaration, nobody on the current Election Board seemed to state matter of factly just when
this agreement went on county record. Anyone arguing a case that the post office "historically" has
served as the county's recipient of absentee ballots the week prior to elections should have
provided proof weeks ago.
Warman, too, may need even more time to confirm with the state that the county is within its
legal rights to include any absentee ballots that -- for whatever reason -- were not received in the
county Election Bureau by the close of business on the Friday before the election.
Deadlines are to be met, no matter the reason. Absentee ballots need to be in by the state
mandated Friday deadline, in order for current and accurate voter lists to be generated for
election poll workers to use at the following Tuesday's election.
Prior to accepting any late absentee ballots, the Election Board did not consult with the state for
permission to accept them. Not did it clearly give a specific date when the county entered into a
formal agreement that the post office was to be named as its recipient for absentee ballots the
week prior to election. That should have been a date on the tips of every tongue on the Election
Board going into public meetings to discuss ballots late due to "a mix up with the post office."
Should Warman allow none of the 18 late absentee ballots before him to count, what then happens
to the unchallenged late absentee ballots that the Election Board counted last week that
increased Zimmerlink's lead over Lohr from 12 to 18 votes? If the judge allows none of Lohr's
contested 18 ballots to count, must we legally revert back to the earlier vote tally and declare
Zimmerlink the winner by 12 votes?
Ultimately, Warman must back track and do the work that the Election Board failed to do. So we
wait for his decision -- and may have to wait longer for any challenges that a candidate may have
following that decision.
Unless Warman allows all 18 previously rejected votes and all 18 voted for Lohr, resulting in a tie,
it's in the best interest of the county to declare Zimmerlink the winner already and move along.
At this point in time, it's so unlikely that someone will find another new batch of late absentee
ballots postmarked the second, third or fourth of November, mixed in with the early letters for
Santa, in the post office's mailbag.
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