"This is now our number one priority - get this fixed," Venango County commissioner Mike Dulaney said was the attitude of the election office.
Where the ballot should have listed Bob Gulick as the Democratic candidate, it instead listed Ronald Kope. According Dulaney and director of elections, Sabrina Backer, a miscommunication between Crawford and Venango counties led to the error.
In the May primary Kope won the Plum township nod, but not the entire PENNCREST district.
"It can be remedied," said Backer, who worked with her staff correcting the ballots to ensure the error was fixed.
One problem - mail in ballots had been sent to 44 registered voters in Plum Township and 14 of those had already been returned.
Backer said they sent out new ballots to all 44 voters with a letter explaining the error. The envelop clearly states it is a new ballot and the letter inside explains what the voter needs to do.
Dulaney said the office is also trying to call the voters so they are aware they will need to use the new ballots. The 14 ballots already filed will not be counted, according to Dulaney.
The fix was already being handled when Democratic candidate Bob Gulick called Venango County. He was told how the county was going to handle the issue.
"I will take a wait and see what happens attitude. If [the race] is close I'll have to look at my options. I still have concerns, but it only affect 40 or so votes from what I understand," Gulick said. He indicated he thought the county was doing what it could to fix the problem.
It was other candidates who discovered the error and brought it to Venango County's attention.
PENNCREST school board write-in candidate Nerissa Galt said she decided to contact Venango County after she learned of the ballot issue from current PENNCREST board member Jeff Brooks. He learned of it from a Plum Township resident who messaged him that a candidate was missing from the ballot. Brooks and Galt went to the Venango County website where all percent sample ballots are posted for the public to view and saw on page 71 that the ballot was incorrect.
Dulaney said that this proves the checks and balances in place work to insure a fair election. A problem was discovered and handled quickly. He also offered anyone interested in seeing for themselves how this works can come Friday morning at 9 a.m. to the Venango County commissioners office for their public test of the voting procedures.
"If people come and see, they see the process works," Dulaney said. "I welcome them to come watch. We have nothing to hide."