Because of a lawsuit the Democratic Party of Pennsylvania currently has in front of the state Supreme Court against the Green Party of Pennsylvania on whether the Green Party candidates can get on the November ballot, that will likely impact when ballots will be mailed out in all counties, including Huntingdon.
That was part of an update given by chief clerk Heather Fellman at the weekly meeting of the Huntingdon County Commissioners Tuesday morning.
“The state has not certified the ballots yet (because of the lawsuit), and we are fully prepared to hit the button as soon as the state certifies,” she said. “The state Supreme Court has ordered the state Department of State not to certify ballots until existing litigation is resolved.”
“In order to order ballots and for them to be printed in a timely fashion to be sent and distributed, it’s a concern, and we need to act quickly,” said commissioner and chair Mark Sather. “There seems to be this road block at the state level at this moment.”
Commissioner Jeff Thomas added that ballots could be printed as they are now, but they may need to be reprinted if they need to add names before they’re certified.
“Mail-in ballots are a great thing, but the state needs a deadline on where they must approve (and certify ballots),” said Thomas. “We can’t have people wanting to come in and we don’t have them.”
Sather said an immediate concern is that ballots for those serving in the military need to be sent out by this Saturday, and with no ballots to mail, it poses a major concern.
“There may be an emergency option for military so they write-in all of the candidates they wish for the available seats,” said Fellman, adding she has to look into that further with the state Department of State.
“We have reached out to the state Department of State for guidance since we will likely not have ballots in time to mail them out by the deadline for current military serving,” said Fellman. “We also wanted to start sending those who applied for mail-in ballots next week, but with this, we don’t have guidance on when we can mail them out.”
Commissioner Scott Walls pointed out that it will cost the county $25,000 to print ballots, and if they need to change the ballots, they will be out of compliance and have to reprint, which will cost another $25,000.
Fellman said it usually takes a week to get ballots after they call a printer to print the ballots.
With the information in front of them, the commissioners approved waiting 24 hours before calling a printer to print ballots, and if they have to reprint them, they will seek reimbursement from the state for having to reprint ballots.
Kellie Benson, the county’s grant writer, gave an update on the $4 million in CARES Act funding and applications that have been submitted to the county offices from businesses and nonprofits for relief.
“We’ve had a wonderful response,” said Benson. “We’ve received 154 applications. The consultants are going through and processing them right now to determine eligibility.”
Walls added that once the applications are reviewed by the consultant for eligibility, the commissioners will approve and get out money as soon as possible.
Benson said she’s also spoken with several entities that are interested in the broadband portion of the CARES Act funding, and interested parties have until Friday, Sept. 18, to submit applications.
“It will likely be around two weeks before we hear anything from the consultants,” said Thomas.
In other business, commissioners approved:
— a medical services contract with Dr. Mark Minor for inmates at the Huntingdon County Jail. The yearly agreement is for $35,000 a year. Additionally, medical malpractice, which is provided by Minor, would be reimbursed for an amount not to exceed $5,560.
— the parking lot lease agreement for parking space across the street from Huntingdon County Probation and Children and Youth Services for a cost of $4,400 per month, plus $550.21 in estimated real estate taxes from June 1 through May 1, 2021.
— Fred Gutshall to attend a virtual law symposium from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sept. 21-22 at a cost of $325.44.