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UP IN THE AIR: Haren still not sure if votes will count in commission race

With less than a month until the August 5 General Election, Eddie Haren is hitting the campaign trail with gusto. But whether the votes he garners will count on election day remains up in the air.
A mistake by Washington County Elections Administrator Connie Sinks last month caused Haren to file his write-in candidacy paperwork two days after the required deadline.
Sinks said she misread the deadline as June 18 when it was, in fact, June 16, and subsequently misinformed Haren.
Haren filed the paperwork on June 18 as well as an appeal, asking the state to accept his candidacy despite the missed deadline. Without the state’s approval, any write-in votes submitted for Haren in the election would not be counted.
As of Thursday, Haren still had not found out if a judge would hear his appeal.
“It’s getting to be a problem, really,” Haren said. “I’ve got cards I’m handing out and I’m having signs made. I’m running, but I still don’t know if the votes I get are going to count.”
Two candidates will already be on the ballot for the two spots in the 8th Commission District. Those individuals are incumbents Ben Bowman and Everett Jarrett.
Haren said he decided to run as a write-in candidate for one of the seats after several people asked him to consider it.
“There’s only two candidates for two spots. The people don’t have an option,” said Haren, who served as a commissioner for eight years before losing in an election four years ago. “This has never been done before — being elected as a write-in — but I said, ‘Let’s just do it and see what happens.’”
The deadline hiccup, however, has caused Haren additional hurdles in his quest to become a write-in winner, he said.
“It’s getting real weird,” he said. “When they don’t get it taken care of, you start worrying and wondering.”
When contacted Friday, Sinks said she didn’t know the status of Haren’s appeal.
“He filed some information with the Clerk and Master and a summons was sent over on (July 6),” she said. “I mailed that to my election commissioners. They will need to answer his petition within 30 days.”
Beyond that, Sinks said she was unaware of what happens next.
“I don’t know. I’ve never had this happen before,” she said. “I’m just trying to get everything ready for this election.”
The process to determine if Haren’s votes will be counted could still be ongoing come election day, Sinks said.
“People can still write him in when they go to vote,” she said. “It will just be whether or not they’ll be certified to count them.”