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MERCER Absentee ballots appear to change election outcome



Published: Fri, May 18, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Officials say that after the count of the absentee ballots, the incumbent won the election by one vote.

MERCER, Pa. -- Sadie R. Benham may not have defeated Farrell School Board incumbent Edward D. Zappa in the Democratic primary for that post after all.

Unofficial tallies reported by the Mercer County Board of Elections after Tuesday's election showed Benham beating Zappa by just two votes -- 684 to 682 -- for the fourth seat on the Democratic ticket.

Poll workers at Farrell precinct 2-2 at the Southwest Gardens Economic Development Corp., however, forgot to open and add in eight absentee ballots delivered to the precinct, said James Bennington, county director of registration and elections.

When the oversight was discovered Wednesday, those ballots were opened and added to the candidate totals, he said.

The result is that the county now says Zappa has beaten Benham by a single vote -- 688 to 687, Bennington said.

The official vote count begins Friday, but Bennington said the totals aren't likely to change.

Benham could ask for a recount but it would cost her $50 per precinct to have that done.

The other Democrats on the ballot scored higher totals and won the other three nominations. They are incumbents Rose Marie Branca, Lester Robinson Jr. and Ronald Weston.

There were no Republicans in the election, so the winners of the Democratic primary are virtually assured of election in the fall.




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