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Absentee Ballots Give Erb Victory in Blair Co. Race


Bruce Erb

Last Tuesday's primary election produced a "too close to call" race for the second slot on November's Republican ticket in the race for Blair County Commissioner.

With just three votes separating them after the votes were tallied, challenger Bruce Kelley, an Altoona City councilman, led incumbent Bruce Erb by just three votes.

The unofficial results showed Kelley with a total of 5,694 to Erb's 5,691, making absentee ballots crucial in deciding the winner.

On Friday, May 24, the Board of Elections gathered at the county's highway yard to tally up the absentee ballots bringing to close to the 2019 primary election.

In perhaps the greatest example of "every vote counts," in Blair County history, after the election board totaled up the absentee ballots, Erb came out on top with a 52-vote edge over Kelley, making the final count 5,894 to 5,842 in favor of Erb.

Erb will now join top-vote getter Amy Webster on the Republican ticket against Democratic nominees, Commissioner Ted Beam and newcomer Laura Burke.

Unofficial results from Tuesday's voting showed Burke garnering 3,215 to Beam's 2,836. After absentee votes were counted Burke's total increased to 3,307 while Beam climbed to 2,992.

Webster, who ran a campaign tapping into voter anger over reassessment, a move that raised taxes on many Blair County properties, garnered a vote total of 7,782 after absentee ballots were counted, a total of 1,888 more than Erb.

Although Erb, who is finishing his first term as commissioner, was not involved in the vote for reassessment, the backlash against incumbents may have contributed to the close finish for the second Republican slot on November's ballot.


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