YOUNGSTOWN Recount puts Boles, not Buzzacco, on school board
The elections board counted numerous ballots with misspelled names as valid votes.
By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- A hand recount by the Mahoning County Board of Elections resulted in a two-vote win for Clarence Boles for a Youngstown Board of Education seat, defeating Neil Buzzacco, who enjoyed a seemingly comfortable 44-vote victory on Election Day.
Buzzacco said he was considering filing an appeal with the court of common pleas to seek another recount. He has until Dec. 14 to file it.
The board spent 21/2 hours Tuesday conducting a hand recount of votes in the race for the two-year unexpired term on the Youngstown school board. A hand count was required because it was a write-in race and the election board's voting machines are unable to count write-in ballots.
"The people have spoken, so let's get to work," Boles said after the votes were counted. "The board did a fair job."
No candidate filed the necessary paperwork to have their name appear on the ballot as a candidate for the two-year term on the school board. Five people filed as write-in candidates, meaning the person with the most write-in votes would earn that school board seat.
Unofficial count: Buzzacco appeared to have the race in hand on Election Day when an unofficial count had him winning by 44 votes. The board certified the ballots last week after another recount decreasing Buzzacco's margin of victory to nine votes over Boles, 1,157 to 1,148. Because the margin of victory was less than 0.5 percent, the elections board was compelled under state law to conduct an automatic recount of the votes.
Boles benefited from Tuesday's recount, picking up 26 additional votes compared to 15 for Buzzacco. Those additional votes resulted in Boles' two-vote victory.
The four elections board members reviewed about 500 questionable ballots, pulled by election employees before Tuesday's recount, and voted whether to count or disallow the votes for the candidates.
Counted as votes for Boles by the board were those writing in Michael Boles, John Bole, Clearance Bowles, Clearence Bolos, Clarance Bolds, Charles Boles, Terry Boles, Boyrols, Bolds, Bowles, Bowels, Bowls, Boyle and Boes.
Board members said the intent of those voters was to cast ballots for Boles so they were counted for him.
"If we can satisfy ourselves with reasonable certainty about voter intent, we award that vote to that person," said board Chairman Mark V. Munroe. "We treated both candidates fairly."
The board counted votes for Buzzacco from those writing in Niel Bozzacco, Neil Buzzaca, Neil Bozcoo, C. Buzzacco, Bob Buzzuco, Neil Buzzcoa, Neil Balzo, Mazzacca and Buzzicko.
"The candidate's names were rarely spelled correctly," quipped board member Michael Morley after the recount.
There were several voters who failed to fill in the oval to indicate they were casting ballots for a write-in candidate in the school board race and others who did not put the name of a candidate on the line next to the oval.
Laughter: There were also some ballots that caused laughter among those counting them.
The name of Don L. Hanni Jr., who finished third in the write-in race for school board, had some interesting spellings such as Hinni and Dood Hanni. Also, his sons, Mark and Don III, neither of whom were candidates, received about a dozen votes each.
Clarence Smith, an elections board member and chairman of the county's Republican Party, received five votes, followed by Morley and Kathleen Dillon, both board members, with two votes each. Munroe received no votes.
Other races: The elections board will meet Dec. 14 to recount votes in four other races. They are:
U A two-year unexpired term on the Mahoning County Educational Service Center. David Engler holds a 140-vote lead -- or 0.36 percent -- over board member James E. Roberts.
U West Branch Board of Education member Larry Romigh with a 14-vote lead -- or 0.17 percent -- over board member Keith Martig for the third and final seat on the board up for grabs in last month's election.
U A Craig Beach 3-mill tax levy, which was approved 211-209, a 0.48 percent margin of victory.
U The Alliance school board race. Smith Township's Precinct 2 is the only portion of Mahoning County in that Stark County school district.