On Friday, the Berks County Board of Elections took the last step in completing the 2021 election, holding a nearly three-hour meeting during which they decided which write-in votes they would accept and which they wouldn’t.
It’s something the board does every year, giving write-in candidates a chance to petition to have variations of their names included with write-in votes of their registered names.
The board considers each petition and decides whether variations — like just a last name or a misspelling of a name or a name missing a “Jr.” at the end — will be included in the final vote tally.
While in many years the process isn’t too big of a deal, this time around it certainly was. A lot of hopes were riding on the process.
The county received an unprecedented 33,285 write-in votes.
And coming into Friday, there were eight local races where the total number of write-in votes were higher than the votes cast for on-ballot candidates in positions to win.
That meant there was a potential for eight races — six for school board seats and two for township supervisor spots — to have write-in candidates declared winners over candidates whose names were on the ballot.
When all was said and done Friday, and the board certified the election results, write-in candidates came out on top in four races: two contests for supervisor positions in Centre Township, one for a seat on the Tulpehocken School Board and one for a seat on the Kutztown School Board.
Centre Township supervisor
There were two supervisor positions on the ballot, one for a six-year term and one for a four-year term.
Both had the same candidate running unopposed. The initial results for both races had that candidate getting fewer votes than the number of write-in votes that were cast, and when the write-in votes were finalized on Friday he had lost both contests.
The results of the race for the four-year seat are:
• Jason Troutman (write-in)
• Timothy J. Lehner (D/R)
And the results for the six-year seat are:
• James Fitterling (write-in)
• Timothy J. Lehner (D/R)
Lehner had previously beat both Troutman and Fitterling in the primary election for the Republican nomination, knocking them off the November ballot. Troutman and Fitterling were incumbents running for reelection.
Tulpehocken School Board, region three
Write-in votes knocked off one of the two candidates running for the Tulpehocken School Board in region three.
The race was uncontested on the ballot, with two candidates listed and two spots on the board available. But leading into Friday, write-in votes topped the second-place candidate.
The final tally shows that the second-place on-ballot candidate was, indeed, bumped by a write-in candidate.
The official results of the race are:
• Carl R. Kauffman III (R)
• Harry L. Fox Jr. (write-in)
• Oscar J. Manbeck (D/R)
Kutztown School Board, region three
Three candidates on the ballot were vying for two spots in region three of the Kutztown School Board.
After Friday’s counting of write-in votes, two of those candidates are out. A write in candidate earned enough votes to finish in second place, securing a spot on the board.
The official results are now:
• Jason Koch (R)
• Jeremiah Light (write-in)
• Karl H. Nolte III (D/R)
• Charles N. Shurr Jr. (D)
Other write-in challenges
While write-in votes only ended up impacting three local races, the amount cast in a handful of other races threatened candidates that were on the ballot.
There were four school board races where the total number of write-in votes were higher than the votes received by at least some of the on-ballot candidates. Those races were for board seats in Wilson, Brandywine Heights, Oley Valley and Schuylkill Valley at large.
But once write-in votes were doled out to the various write-in candidates in those races on Friday, none found themselves in a position to overtake a winning, on-ballot candidate.
Source: Berkshire mont