Appeals, Nos. 238, 239, 240, 241, Jan. T., 1957, from orders of Court of Common Pleas of Clearfield County, Nov. T., 1956, Nos. 163-1/2, 163, 164, and 165, in re disputed ballots of Morann Precinct, Woodward Township, Plymton and Hillsdale Precincts, Lawrence Township, and in re opening of ballot boxes of Hillsdale Precinct, Glen Richey and Plymton Precincts. Orders affirmed.
Walter M. Swoope, with him John B. Gates and Bell, Silberblatt & Swoope, for appellant.
Eugene L. Cimino, with him Kelley, Johnson & Cimino, for appellee.
Before Jones, C.j., Bell, Chidsey, Musmanno, Arnold, Jones and Cohen, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE BENJAMIN R. JONES
At the general election held on November 6, 1956 Harris G. Breth, Democrat, and William C. Chase, Republican, were the Democratic and Republican candidates, respectively, for Representative to the General Assembly from the 1st District of Clearfield County.
On these four appeals two issues are presented: (1) were petitions presented for the purpose of opening the ballot boxes in three election precincts timely filed under Section 1703 of the Election Code and (2) were three disputed ballots properly validated by the court below?
On the basis of the open election returns Breth had a plurality of eighty-one (81) votes. The computation and recanvass of votes reduced Breth's plurality to forty-one (41) votes. During the course of the computation and recanvass and as the result of opening certain ballot boxes Breth's plurality was further reduced to either (8) votes and when the County Board of Election certified the returns on December 4, 1956 Breth had a plurality of eight (8) votes.*fn1
Section 1404(a), art. XIV of the Pennsylvania Election Code*fn2 provides the time, manner and method of officially canvassing and computing the election returns together with the time and the method of certification
thereof. Under this statutory provision it is the duty of the County Board of Election (hereinafter called Board) to commence the computation and canvass of votes "at noon on the third day following the ... election" - in the instant case November 9, 1956 - "and continue ... until completed". Upon completion of the computation and canvassing of the votes, the Board "shall tabulate the figures for the entire county and sign, announce and attest the same". The Board is required to certify the official returns (1) at the expiration of five days after the completion of the vote computation, if no petition for a recount or recanvass has been filed, or (2) upon completion of the recount or recanvass if a petition for a recount or recanvass has been filed within five days after completion of the vote computation. If, however, the Court of Common Pleas directs a revision of the returns, or, if, in case of a recount, errors in the returns have been found, then it becomes the Board's duty to revise, correct, and certify the returns.
On November 9, 1956 the Board in accordance with its statutory duty began its computation and canvass of the votes in Clearfield County. On November 21, 1956, while the computation and canvass by the Board was in progress, electors of certain election precincts petitioned the Court of Common Pleas of Clearfield County to open the ballot boxes in those precincts. After the court granted these petitions, the Board opened the ballot boxes and recounted and recanvassed the votes in those precincts. On ...