Results of Central York election still unknown with thousands of write-in votes left to count

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Nov. 9 update:

YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — A week after Election Day, the result of one of the Midstate’s most-watched races remains in doubt as yet another Midstate county works its way manually through tens of thousands of write-in votes.

More specifically, York County is going through around 36,000 write-in votes one-by-one, which is why it is taking so long to get an update on the Central York School District race in which two candidates with opposing views are separated by just four votes (with 50 provisional ballots not yet counted) for the fourth and final four-year school board seat.

York County has now canvassed those provisional ballots — in other words, they have determined whether or not the votes are valid — but as of the 5 p.m. news, they have not yet updated the totals.

As it stands, Faith Casale and Rebecca Riek are separated by those four votes. When abc27 asked when those numbers will change, county leaders said it will happen after they finish what is called the “adjudication process” for all ballots, including write-ins.

For perspective on how much that could matter, a race in South Western School District has more write-in votes than votes for anyone on the ballot. If most of those write-ins are for the same person, then that person would get on the board.

Meanwhile, in Central York, the results are still unknown, but intense interest in the race drove voter turnout of 39%, far higher than the county overall.

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Nov. 4 update:

Subsequent to the report below, York County began canvassing the county’s 425 provisional ballots Friday, including the 50 that could impact the Central York race. The ballots will be tabulated at once after the canvassing board — the county’s three commissioners — determines their eligibility. An updated count could be ready late Friday.

abc27 News asked both likely contenders for the fourth seat — Faith Casale, who leads by four votes, and Rebecca Riek — for their thoughts as the process continues. Both provided statements Thursday afternoon:

Faith Casale (R): “I’m looking forward to the votes being finalized in the coming days and am preparing to work hard for this great district.”

Rebecca Riek (D): “While I’m eager to know the final outcome of this election, it is vital that we allow every vote to be counted and every voice to be heard. There are still overseas ballots from U.S service personnel and provisional ballots from Election Day that need to be tabulated. These voters deserve to have a say as our process plays out. Regardless of the outcome, I look forward to serving our Central York community, whether as an involved district resident or on the school board.”

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Original report from Nov. 3:

With the race for the final four-year Central York School District board seat separated by just four votes, abc27 News has learned 50 provisional ballots for precincts in the district remain to be counted in the coming days.

Provisional ballots are those cast by voters whose eligibility to vote, using a regular ballot, can’t be confirmed when they arrive at a polling place. This could be — for example — because a voter requested a mail-in ballot and later decided to vote in person, without bringing the unused mail-in ballot — in that case, election workers would have to verify the person’s mail-in ballot hadn’t arrived, to ensure no one votes twice.

Based on vote totals Wednesday night, Faith Casale (R) led Rebecca Riek (D) by four votes — 4,898 to 4,894 — for the fourth four-year seat. The first three four-year seats appeared to be safely in the hands of Corey Thurman and Amy Milsten, who ran together on a slate of four Democratic challengers, and Tim Strickler, a Republican incumbent who ran on a slate with two other Republicans (Veronica Gemma, who was unseated, and Casale).

Running with Thurman and Milsten was Riek, who trailed Casale by the single-digit margin, and Joel Folkemer. Folkemer’s total of 4,869 votes puts him theoretically within reach of the seat, based on the 50 uncounted provisional ballots, although for him to win, nearly all the provisional ballots would need to be determined to be eligible and select him and not one of the other candidates ahead of him. (Voters could choose four candidates for the four-year seats.)

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Republicans won both two-year seats on the ballot by wide margins.

Including Casale’s small lead, Republicans are poised to win two of the four-year seats, and four of the six seats overall. Were Riek to overtake Casale, Democrats would win three of the four four-year seats and would split the six seats 3-3.

abc27 News asked the three clear winners of four-year seats to react to the news. All three supplied statements:

Amy Milsten (D): “This board has a tremendous diversity of experience and strengths. I’m honored to be joining them, and I plan to tap into my experience with children and youth programming on various non-profit boards to help make a difference and put our students first.”

Tim Strickler (R): “Despite deceptive attack ads, on balance citizens voted for a return to core academics success and against social agendas, for local control of schools, for parental involvement and choice, and for fiscal responsibility. With our new superintendent arriving shortly, I’m eager for greater dialog and unity among the District’s new board, administration, teachers, and parents in best serving our children.”

Corey Thurman (D): “My entire personal and professional life has been dedicated to learning the value of teamwork. I’m looking forward to collaborating with our educators, parents, students, and my fellow board members to make a positive impact for our community.”

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