Judge orders election recount in Port Matilda mayor, Benner Township supervisor races

Port Matilda residents must wait at least another week before they’ll know who will be their next mayor.

Centre County President Judge Thomas King Kistler on Tuesday ordered a recount in the borough’s mayoral race. In the Nov. 5 general election, Ida Lively led Bobbi Jo Hamer, 34 votes to 33.

Kistler ruled that a recount will take place at 10:30 a.m. Dec. 17 in the Centre County Elections and Voter Registration Office.

Lively and Hamer were the clear top two of three write-in candidates who ran after Mayor Robert Wiser, weeks before the election, announced that he did not wish to serve again despite being on the ballot. Wiser, the primary winner running unopposed on the ballot, asked voters not to pick him.

Wiser received 29 votes.

At the hearing, Kistler also made a ruling about 20 undervotes — additional ballots incorrectly cast. Specifically, he said ballots with handwritten names but without the proper write-in ovals filled should be counted.

“The court believes that the effort of the voter to list the name is sufficient to indicate intent,” Kistler said.

Lively and Hamer, both present at the hearing, agreed that such undervotes should be counted.

Some of the undervote ballots may have stickers for Hamer in place of written names and in violation of county election rules. Kistler said that, if needed, he will examine any sticker ballots in question and determine their legitimacy after the recount.

Also on Tuesday, Kistler granted Benner Township Supervisor John Elnitski’s petition for a recount, scheduling it for 11 a.m. Dec. 17.

Elnitski lost his race to challenger Mark Capriani, 361-352.