WILKES-BARRE – As promised, Hazleton Area School Board candidate Carmella Yenkevich filed a court action Thursday in her quest to right a ballot error in the May primary election.
Yenkevich filed the action through her attorney, Bill Vinsko, and on behalf of 24 other petitioners from Luzerne County.
Also on Thursday, a Hazle Township man who received a nomination for township supervisor asked a judge to allow 15 write-in votes to be included in his total vote count.
“Whether intentional or unintentional, there was clear wrongdoing by the Luzerne County Bureau of Elections, and, as a result, Luzerne County, in failing to notify the election bureaus of Schuylkill and Carbon counties of Mr. (Steven) Hahn’s withdrawal,” Vinsko wrote in the filing.
The Luzerne County election office failed to notify Carbon and Schuylkill counties of Steve Hahn’s withdrawal in the race. Hahn wrongfully appeared on the ballot in those two counties and received 279 Republican and 273 Democratic votes that could have gone to other contenders and altered the outcome.
With votes for Hahn factored in, four candidates received both party nominations, guaranteeing a win in November. Yenkevich came in fifth on both tickets, followed by candidates Fred Mariano and Thomas Chirico.
After reviewing Vinsko’s filing and a request to intervene filed by county Chief Solicitor David Pedri, county Judge Thomas Burke scheduled a June 20 hearing to consider a reelection. Vinsko’s filing requests a nullification of the entire school board election in the two neighboring counties.
Those who object to Yenkevich’s filing will have a chance to say so at the June 20 hearing. Vinsko said he will notify the election board, school board candidates and other interested parties of Thursday’s filing.
Pedri said Thursday at a press conference that at the hearing it will ultimately be up to a judge to decide how to handle any reelection, but he will suggest an absentee ballot method in which voters who cast ballots in the election in Carbon and Schuylkill counties will receive a ballot and a self-addressed, stamped envelope to return the ballot.
Pedri said he hopes to have the reelection and matter resolved by August.
Pedri said the county will be handling any costs incurred. Vinsko noted that County Manager Robert Lawton paid for Yenkevich’s filing with a personal check for the $140 filing fee.
“Luzerne County has been very helpful and forthcoming,” Vinsko said.
“Hopefully, we’ll have a special election and get this matter behind us,” Pedri said, noting the county made a human error.
In the matter involving Francis Boyarski, his attorney Pasco Schiavo, filed a petition requesting a judge add 15 write-in votes to his total after the county election board denied a request to do so.
After the May primary, Boyarski received a nomination on the Democratic ticket.
The county election board on June 2 denied adding 14 write-in’s in the name of “Boyarski” and one write-in in the name of “Butch Boyarski” - a nickname Boyarski uses.
The board indicated, according to Schiavo’s filing, that it could not count the write-in’s because “it had an existing blanket and not case-by-case policy not to count write-in votes which did not list the full name of the candidate.”
Had the 15 votes been counted, Boyarski would have also received a Republican nomination for supervisor.
The 15 votes should be counted, Schiavo wrote, because the votes “clearly show” that it was the voters intent to elect Boyarski; that no other Boyarski was running; and that the name Boyarski is not a common name, such as Smith or Jones and “cannot be substituted for different names.”
A judge has not yet made a ruling on the request, nor has a hearing date been scheduled as of Thursday.