Absentee votes didn’t dent results from the May 15 primary. Act 1 was still voted down and Grove City’s dry status was still toppled – while neighboring towns stayed dry.

Grove City, Harrisville and New Wilmington had referendums asking voters if they would want alcohol-serving establishments. The three referendum drives were led by businessmen in the hub of each town.

For Grove City, at the start of primary eve’s tally at the Mercer County Courthouse, numbers seemed grim for those not wanting the borough to go wet, with about 150 fighting against it and 250 pushing for it.

Numbers went neck and neck around 10:50 p.m., with a jump to 691 for the referendum and 634 sticking to their guns against it.

Within 10 minutes, however, the unofficial final count was 802 for ousting the borough’s dry status and 727 for keeping it, leaving a close 75-vote win for proponents of alcohol in Grove City.

After absentee ballots were figured later in the week, alcohol was favored in the borough by 817 to 736, bringing the win up to 81 votes.

Among the borough’s five wards, Ward 4 pulled in the most votes for alcohol in town at 249 to 142. “Yes” votes jumped a bit to 251 with absentees, with no additional votes against the referendum.

Referendum leader Stephen Steigerwald – co-owner of Steigerwald Kitchens and Baths downtown – lives in Ward 4 on West Washington Boulevard. He and his small army of volunteers gained significant support there during the petition drive that got the referendum on the ballot.

Ward 3 was next in gaining the most votes for the alcohol referendum, with 111 for it and 93 against it. Figures didn’t rise much at 112 to 95 with absentee votes.

Ward 1 had a close call, voting wet by a slim 147 to 142 margin. Absentees favoring wet lifted votes to 152, with none voting dry.

Wards 2 and 5 voted to stay dry, with the former voting 171 against the referendum and 132 for it. That rose a bit with 176 to 136 with absentees. Ward 5 narrowly won against the town being wet at 179 votes, while 163 voted for it. That lifted some to 181 to 166.

Including absentees, a total of 1,015 Republicans and 438 Democrats in Grove City voted in the primary, but an additional 111 non-partisans voted for the referendums. All citizens can vote for a referendum in a primary, but only members of the two major parties can vote for candidates.

In Butler County, the scene was much different in Harrisville with the town voting to stay dry. Including absentees, one referendum that would have allowed liquor was defeated by a 99 to 132 margin. Another addressing malt beverages was defeated by a 98 to 132 margin.

That alcohol petition drive was led by David Carr, who co-owns The Family Tradition Restaurant on Route 8.

The drive to get alcohol in neighboring New Wilmington by Jay Behm, owner of The Tavern on the Square downtown, also failed.

Residents in the Amish Lawrence County community made a big statement, with 312 voting to keep the horse and buggy town dry and 182 wanting it wet.

State-wide, another large referendum was over Act 1, or the Pennsylvania Tax Relief Act.

Act 1 received a frown by voters in all local school districts. In fact, it was defeated by voters in all Mercer County school districts.

Under Act 1, the state mandated school districts to appoint Tax Study Commissions last year to recommend a wage or personal income tax increase to bring before their school boards and voters.

The increase would be used to reduce property taxes for those who applied for Homestead or Farmstead relief.

Although school boards were forced to set an increase, voters ultimately decided to vote them down – some at early promptings of school officials that didn’t like the bureaucracy associated with Act 1.

On election day, Grove City schools turned down Act 1 by a 1,840 to 909 margin. The margin went from 1,858 to 936 with absentee votes.

Mercer voted 978 to 581 against the referendum. Absentees brought that number to 996 to 596.

Lakeview voted 963 against it and 464 for it. That rose to 971 to 467.

In Butler County, Slippery Rock schools’ three regions all turned down Act 1 by nearly 50 percent margins:

In Region 1, 520 voted “no” and 339 voted “yes” for the referendum.

In Region 2, 863 voted against and 441 voted for it.

Region 3 opposed Act 1 by 492 votes, while 248 upheld it.

In Venango County, Franklin schools voted a whopping 2,228 against Act 1, while 1,151 voted for it.

Results are not yet official. Elections bureaus in all four counties still need to do their final count of election results, including absentee and write-in votes. In Mercer County, there are 364 absentee ballots, according to its elections bureau.

The first signing of Mercer County’s count will be tomorrow, and voters will have until May 29 to appeal it, before it’s signed official, according to Jeff Greenburg, elections director.

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