A write-in candidate and his lawyer thought the hand count would show a much closer race.
By LAURE CIOFFI
VINDICATOR NEW CASTLE BUREAU
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- It's taken a few extra months, but the race for Union Township supervisor is finally over.
A judge has settled the dispute over write-in votes, and the election-night winner, Kevin Guinaugh, will keep his seat.
Judge J. Craig Cox of Lawrence County Common Pleas Court issued his decision Wednesday, settling the matter brought by write-in candidate Patrick Angiolelli.
Voting officials hand-counted all ballots in Union Township's four precincts to help settle the dispute.
In the end, both candidates came up with extra votes, but there weren't enough to make Angiolelli the winner.
The numbers: The final tally gave Guinaugh 894 votes and Angiolelli 775 -- a 119-vote difference.
Angiolelli's attorney, Joseph Kearney, said they pursued the matter because they thought the vote count was much closer. At one point, it was thought there was only a 54-vote difference.
Kearney said he did not know how the candidates ended up with such a wide margin of votes.
Court proceedings: Both candidates stipulated Wednesday in court to give extra votes to each other after the most recent hand count of Precincts 2 and 3 in Union Township. Five extra votes went to Angiolelli and three to Guinaugh, the judge's order says.
Judge Cox, however, decided against granting Angiolelli a hearing to consider 34 other ballots still in dispute after the hand count.
Different spellings of Angiolelli's last name appeared on those ballots and were not counted in his favor Election Day, Kearney said.
The judge did decide to give Angiolelli back a $100 deposit he paid the county prothonotary's office to challenge the election results. Judge Cox noted in his ruling that there were substantial errors in the original ballot count, caused by inadvertent markings on the ballots that caused voting machines to fail.
Marlene Gabriel, the county's election director, said now that this matter is settled, the county elections board is expected to certify the 2001 election results when it meets Tuesday morning.