Voters in Mount Joy Township will see something unusual on the ballot in November: a candidate running for the Board of Auditors.
Steven M. Rosenshine submitted signatures of registered voters to get on the ballot as the Libertarian Party nominee. People who are registered to vote as Democrats and Republicans are nominated in primary elections; independents and members of smaller parties must gather signatures on nomination papers; the deadline to submit them was Thursday, Aug. 1. Rosenshine is the only person in greater Elizabethtown to file signatures for local office other than as the nominee of the two largest parties.
Rosenshine is unopposed for a sixyear term on the three-member board, making his election a near-certainty. A four-year term is also up for election this year; as usual, nobody is on the ballot for that.
With nobody on the ballot, the office can be filled with write-in votes; if somebody gets more votes than anyone else, that person is elected.
But with the township auditor office, most often there is a tie between multiple people who get one write-in vote each. That was the case in 2017, when there were 28 write-in votes cast for auditor in Mount Joy Township, including one each for Ronald Reagan and Donald Duck.
But Randall O. Wenger, head of the Lancaster County Board of Elections and Registration Commission, said the procedure there is to see if the names match registered voters in the township.
“If we have a tie between Donald Duck and Snoopy, the position remains vacant,” Wenger said.
For the names that do match registered voters, letters are sent to each one asking them if they want to withdraw from the race. Anybody who does not withdraw is entered into a “casting of lots,” the legal term for a random selection. That includes people who ignore the letter.
“If they do nothing, their name will be in the casting of lots,” Wenger said.
So in 2017, John Gantz was picked by casting of lots as a newly elected Mount Joy Township auditor.
In 2015, eight people got one write-in vote each for a four-year term as Mount Joy Township auditor; Stephen Figard was declared the winner after the casting of lots. Twelve people got one write-in vote each for a six-year term as Mount Joy Township auditor that same year, but nobody was elected. Wenger explained that in that case, the person chosen by casting of lots did not accept the office, so it remained vacant. When the office is vacant, township supervisors can vote to fill the vacancy.
The three-member board is scheduled to meet once a year in January, but frequently is unable to meet because two members must be present for a quorum, Township Manager Justin Evans said.
“The last couple of years we haven’t had a quorum,” Evans said.
Like most larger townships, Mount Joy Township has a certified public accountant audit its books. Elected auditors do that work in municipalities that do not engage CPAs. In addition, the board reviews the pay given to township supervisors who have other township jobs; in some townships, supervisors also work as roadmasters, laborers or secretaries. That is not the case in Mount Joy Township, where the supervisors do not have other township jobs and are paid $1,200 a year for their services as supervisors.
The authority of elected auditors is described in the Auditor’s Manual published by the state Department of Community and Economic Development.
“The auditors must audit, adjust and settle the accounts of all elected or appointed township officials, boards or agencies that received, disbursed or were otherwise entrusted with township funds during the preceding year. They also may audit the accounts of the district justice for the township to determine the amount of fines and costs paid or due to the township. Unless otherwise agreed to by the auditors and the officer being audited, the audit shall be conducted at the place where the records of the officer are normally kept,” the manual reads.
The manual also says auditors have the authority to subpoena witnesses and, in the event of a disagreement with township supervisors that is not resolved with reasonable effort, to petition the county Court of Common Pleas to retain an attorney to represent them in the dispute. The attorney is paid from the township’s general fund.
It was unclear what Rosenshine hopes to achieve in office. The Advocate contacted the Libertarian Party’s state and county organizations to request an interview with him, but got no response by press time.