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Bedford County Chairperson Dispute

A former Bedford County District Attorney with a criminal history was recently voted as the Chairperson of the County’s Republican Party. That vote is now being challenged and the State GOP is expected to review the vote. Here is why that election is being disputed and what both sides are saying.

A grievance is being filed to the Republican Party of Pennsylvania. It alleges eight people were not allowed to vote for a Chairperson at a meeting earlier this month. Bedford County Commissioner and Elections Board Member JR Winck says he believes they should have been able to vote on the Chairperson of the County’s Republican Committee and is asking the State GOP to review it. Winck saying: “The people that went came to serve and were told to leave and that was a little disappointing to see.”

Bill Higgins did win the seat at that meeting which surprised many. Higgins pled guilty to 31 criminal counts of misconduct while he was Bedford’s District Attorney. That deal in 2018 allowed him to avoid prison time. Now he looks to chair the County‚Äôs Republican Party. He says there was about 15 people at the meeting that did meet the credentials under the law. Higgins sites Section 3155 under Title 25 in Pennsylvania Law saying with irregular or write-in ballots, a person must receive at least as many votes as signatures required to be on the ballot for that position. In the case of a Bedford County Republican Committee Person, that would be at least 10 votes needed. Higgins saying: “The active chairperson, Randy Maxwell, had his list of credentialed voters and asked those that weren’t on that list to leave. There was a vote, I was nominated, I was elected.”

But Winck says after asking County Solicitor Dean Crabtree and other legal experts, another Pennsylvania Law – Section 2840 – stating a plurality of votes would allow the spots to be filled. Winck saying: “The dispute is that the local party does not recognize those people as being elected.”

But according to a Philadelphia Judge in the 2018 case Lewis vs. the Philadelphia County Board of Elections, this section applies to candidates whose name appear on the ballot, while the minimum requirement of votes applies to write-in votes.

The people in question in this case were not on the Ballot during April’s Primary Election. Higgins and Winck both confirming there will be a meeting with the State’s Republican Party with both sides stating its argument. Winck saying: “My thing is the integrity of the vote and also recognizing the fact that these individuals were elected as committee people.”

Higgins, in closing: “I think in America you have a right to challenge anything you disagree with, to have it reviewed, and to have a determination made. And that’s this process, I fully respect it, we’ll participate in that process. I have no doubt that they’ll follow the law and deny the grievance.”

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