Hearing on 13 challenged Luzerne County ballots scheduled for Friday

Luzerne County’s Election Board will hold a public hearing Friday afternoon on 13 challenged provisional ballots in the Republican 117th District state representative race.

If opened and tallied, these votes could seal the outcome of the Republican nomination because the race is so close.

As it stands, four votes separate the party’s two contenders — Jamie Walsh and incumbent Mike Cabell.

In addition to the 13 votes left hanging, there were three other Republican votes in the 117th District that survived challenges and were factored into the election bureau’s Tuesday afternoon online results update.

Two were provisional votes, and one was from an overseas absentee ballot.

Walsh picked up one, and Cabell added two.

The latest tally: Walsh, 4,728, and Cabell, 4,724.


Representing Walsh, Attorney Carter Hoel of Pittsburgh lodged challenges against 12 provisional votes.

Attorney Shohin H. Vance of Philadelphia, representing Cabell, contested one ballot and partially enjoined in objections for two of those contested by Hoel.

The five-citizen, volunteer election board voted to advance all 13 provisional ballots, but they were segregated and not tallied pending the outcome of the challenge.

Friday’s hearing is at 1 p.m. in the adjudication room on the third floor of the county’s Penn Place Building at 20 N. Pennsylvania Ave. in Wilkes-Barre.

After hearing legal arguments at Friday’s hearing, the board will decide whether it is standing by its original decision to accept the ballots or reverse it.

This will be treated as an official proceeding, with a reporter completing a transcript. Challengers would then have an option to appeal the board’s decision to the county Court of Common Pleas.

Voters who cast the contested ballots must be notified of the hearing to exercise their right to speak on their behalf.

While the bureau will contact all 13 voters by phone, board Chairwoman Denise Williams said during Tuesday’s adjudication she is concerned that is not enough because some recipients may disregard the message, believing it is a scam.

The board, bureau and county assistant solicitors agreed the list of impacted voters should be posted on the county website as added notification.

According to the list posted on the election page Tuesday evening, provisional ballots from the following voters are subject to the challenge: Nadine Simpson, Dorrance Township; Timothy J. Wagner, Lake Township; Arnold Hardman, Harveys Lake; Catherine Cilvik, Harveys Lake; Daryl Chipeleski, Black Creek Township; Andrew Wesner, Sugarloaf Township District 1; Sharon Horensky, Dorrance Township; Larry Mills, Butler Township District 1; Carol Mills, Butler Township District 1; Dona Reinmiller, White Haven; David Horensky, Dorrance Township; Gloria Ricco, Butler Township District 3; and Michael Hess, Fairmount Township.

Williams also requested the bureau provide a report to the board before Friday’s hearing detailing the reasons why attorneys maintain each ballot should not be processed and tallied.

Board Vice Chairwoman Alyssa Fusaro concurred, saying it is needed for the board to make informed decisions.

The election bureau supplied a list of challenges and reasons to the board Tuesday afternoon. Hoel requested an opportunity for attorneys to review this list to verify it matches the challenge reasons they had cited.

Williams asked if there is a fee for campaigns challenging votes.

County Assistant Solicitor Paula Radick said there is only a fee for mail ballot challenges, not provisional ones.

Provisional paper ballots are filled out at the polls for various reasons, and the board reviews them last to verify the voters were registered and did not also vote with a mail ballot.

With Tuesday’s decisions factored in, the board collectively accepted 89 provisional ballots and rejected 39 to date.

Five citizens serve on the election board: Republicans Fusaro and Rick Morelli and Democrats Albert Schlosser, Daniel Schramm and Denise Williams (chair). Schlosser was absent Tuesday.

Adjudication resumes at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the Penn Place adjudication room.

Reach Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *