Absentee ballots make the difference in Democratic primary race for Berks County Commissioner


Berks County Commissioner Kevin Barnhardt said he's breathing a sigh of relief.

Election officials spent Friday morning counting absentee ballots, and it looks like Barnhardt will be on the ballot in November.

Since Tuesday's election there's been some question on if the projected winner could change. After counting 474 Democrat absentee ballots Friday, it did.

Roughly 20 percent of Berks County voters took part in the primary election.

"This an example as to how important it is to vote and every vote does count," said Debbie Olivieri with the Berks County Elections Services.

Those voters decided some major races, including the Democratic primary for Berks County Commissioner.

Democrat city councilor Donna Reed clinched a spot on the November ballot, but only 32 votes separated second-place finisher Mike Morrill and incumbent Barnhardt.

"I've never had something this close in the years I've been doing this job," Olivieri said.

With so close a margin, the 474 democrat absentee ballots and provisional ballots would make the difference. Barnhardt looked on during the count.

"Watching it every step of the way. Wanted to see how the process worked," Barnhardt said.

After being sworn in, election officials began what's called a canvass, counting absentee and provisional ballots to add to Tuesday's tally.

"Here's living proof that every vote counts," said Barnhardt.

After counting the absentee and provisional ballots, Barnhardt came out ahead by just 22 votes.

Christian Leinbach and Michael Rivera clinched the Republican spots on the November ballot, Rivera edged out incumbent Mark Scott.

On his campaign social media page, Morrill said he's grateful to everyone for all of the hard work.

He went on to write that his team ran a bold progressive campaign in a conservative Berks County, and almost pulled it off.