Hoping a recount will change the outcome in three Central Bucks School Board races that saw Democrats flip the board’s majority, several dozen Republicans are petitioning a Bucks County court to count the ballots again.
With five new, or reelected, school board members set to take their seats next week, the petitioners want a hand count of ballots cast in 15 polling places in New Britain Borough and Buckingham, New Britain and Plumstead townships.
The challenges include three voting regions where Democratic candidates beat their Republican opponents by numbers ranging from 295 votes to 470 votes, according to unofficial election results.
In their challenge, petitioners cited “information and a belief, fraud, error” took place. There is no specific violation offered. The petitioners however did cite the wrong election in their filing, saying the miscounting took place in the Republican primary.
In Region 1, Karen Smith won her race against Dr. Stephen Mass by 470 votes, or 8%; in Region 2, Heather Reynolds beat current school board president Dana Hunter by 295 votes, or just under 6%, and in Region 3, Dana Foley beat Glenn Schloeffel by 512 votes, or more than 8%, Bucks County unofficial election results show.
Under Pennsylvania law, an automatic recount is triggered when the difference in results is less than 0.5%. While local elections don’t need to meet any such standard, if they did, the recount would need to add about 500 votes for either Mass or Schloeffel and about 300 for Hunter to alter the outcome.
State law provides voters the right to petition for a recount for a $50 fee.
A county judge will be assigned to the case, said county spokesman James O’Malley. Once that happens, the judge will meet with the petitioners and the Bucks County Board of Elections, comprised of the three county commissioners. “Typically, they’ll get their recount,” O’Malley said.
At that point all the ballots in the regions being questioned will be run through a scanner, he said, using a different machine than the ones used on Election Day. While the petitioners called for a hand recount, that will not be the process, as petitioners are not entitled to determine the manner of the recount, based on past court decisions.
School board member Karen Smith called the recount petition “a waste of time.”