By BERNIE HORNICK
Anthony Gergely didn’t lose by one vote in his race for the Democratic nomination for Johnstown mayor.
If he had, it would have been his own fault.
Gergely didn’t vote Tuesday, though he had expressed interest in casting his ballot in three different ways. By the time it was over, Cambria County Elections Director Fred Smith was calling the whole thing a media stunt and the 7th Ward Ambulance Association was on standby for a call that never came.
The Kernville resident is supposed to vote at First Cambria AME Zion Church at the corner of Haynes Street and Menoher Boulevard.
The polling place is not handicapped accessible, however, so the wheelchair-bound Gergely went to the nearby YMCA on Tuesday morning and tried to vote there. The YMCA can accommodate the disabled, and Gergely said that he has voted there before.
He was denied because he is not registered to vote there.
By 5 p.m., Gergely had decided to try voting at his polling place, one of about seven precincts of Cambria County’s 165 that is not handicapped accessible.
Outside, he asked for a sample paper ballot, marked it up like he wanted to vote and handed it to a poll worker so the worker could vote his selections on the electronic machine.
“Well, I know I got one vote,” Gergely joked later.
Little did he know that he hadn’t voted after all.
Judge of Elections Linda Tisinger was unsure about how to handle such substitute voting so she called Smith.
“They can’t vote for him,” Smith said.
“There is no curbside voting in the commonwealth.”
In the minutes Tisinger was on the phone, however, Gergely had motored away – though Tisinger said she had told him to stay put while she phoned Smith.
Smith got in touch with county Emergency Management Director Ron Springer, who got the 7th Ward Ambulance Association to be ready to take Gergely in to vote. But Gergely had left.
Tisinger then sent someone to Gergely’s nearby house, but he wasn’t home. “That’s all we can do,” she said.
Smith was thrown by the whole affair.
“The way he’s handling this thing is pretty offbeat,” Smith said. “He wants media access that he was denied to vote.”
As far as Gergely voting at a place other than where he is registered, Smith said such a practice would cause chaos in the election system.
If precinct officials had allowed him to vote at the Y in the past, then that was a mistake.
Gergely said it is part of Smith’s job to make the polling places handicapped accessible. Smith said the law mandates only that polling places be handicapped accessible when their locations are changed.
To top it all off, Gergely had asked Smith in April to send him an application for an absentee ballot which – had he voted that way – would have negated this whole story.
But Gergely changed his mind and never sent in the application, preferring instead to vote in person.
Which he did – and didn’t – do.
n n n
Voters at the Westmont Municipal Building got a tag-team of old buddies electioneering together Tuesday afternoon to get one of them – District Attorney Pat Kiniry – elected judge.
Joe Rizzo was handing out “Kiniry” cards to voters when he was joined by his old grade-school chum.
The two reminisced about tossing crabapples around their West End neighborhood and Kiniry tipped his hand about what kind of a judge he would be on such “crimes.”
“There’s no case here,” the DA joked. “That’s how we’ll handle that.”