Shae Ashe, the former president of the Norristown Area School Board who resigned two weeks before the Nov. 2 election after accusations that he sent sexually suggestive messages to a 17-year-old Norristown High School  student, won a seat on the school board on Nov. 2. And it appears mail-in ballots played a role in that victory.

Ashe, 30, a Democrat, came in fourth for the four seats, in the heavily Democratic district. Neither Ashe nor his lawyer responded to requests for comment, although when he withdrew from the board, Ashe asserted that he had not done anything wrong.

Shortly before his withdrawal, parents picketed the district demanding that Ashe step down and spoke out at a school board meeting.

“It’s crazy,” said Dana, the mother of the girl who received the sexting messages, about voters reelecting Ashe. “(It) makes me sick to my stomach.”

Under state election statutes, when candidates die or withdraw from most offices, it is up to the political party to replace them. However, Montgomery County Democratic Party Chairman Joe Foster said for school board members, the school board itself fills a vacancy.

“But the complication is that Shae won reelection,” said Foster. “So, presumably Shae will resign a second time, and again the board will replace him. The party hopes for a quick resolution to this issue.”

Montgomery County Republican Committee Chairman Liz Havey chalked up Ashe’s win to mail-in votes and noted it is one of the problems with permitting those ballots.

“While Shae Ashe lost overwhelming at the polls, those who cast their vote by mail prior to this information coming to light were unable to change their vote,” said Havey. “This is a significant issue with mail-in voting and prohibits voters from being able to vote with all available information. Our hope is that Mr. Ashe will not accept the nomination and that the board appoints Lisa Licwinko-Engleman to the position, who was the next highest vote-getter receiving over 3,900 votes from Norristown Area residents.

However, it is not that unusual that a name appears on the ballot and the person, for one reason or another, cannot serve.

“This is a situation that happens more often than you think,” said Robin Kolodny, chair of the political science department at Temple University. “Many times, it has to do with the death of a candidate after the ballot has gone to print. Obviously, withdrawal at the ‘wrong time’ is also a problem.”

In the meantime, The Washington Post recounts several instances where candidates won elections posthumously, including state Sen. James Rhoades (R-Alllentown) who had died in an automobile accident before the 2008 election.

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