Mark Scolforo/The Associated Press
Monday was the deadline for Pennsylvania to confirm its election results from last month’s midterm elections, but requests for recounts in several counties — and allegations of voter disenfranchisement in one — are delaying the process.
In a statement to WITF, State Department officials said counties should certify interim results in any race not subject to a “legally valid” recount request. Under the electoral law, voters were required to submit recount requests and pay a fee of $50 per district requested within five days of their district’s final vote count.
“This partial certification process was previously conducted and allows the minister to certify those races not affected by legitimate recount requests,” the county wrote. “Although there is no specific statutory deadline for the Secretary of the Commonwealth to confirm election returns, the Pennsylvania legislative sessions begin in December, and the Department is expected to confirm returns to Congress by mid-December.”
Last week, the Berks County Republican Committee asked several counties to hand count their ballots for the midterm elections. They claimed voting machines switched votes from Republican to Democratic candidates.
“A recount is just an investigation,” committee chair Clay Breece wrote in a statement. “We are asking for a court order to open the ballot boxes so that people can manually count the paper ballots to verify that the machines are working as advertised.”
District spokeswoman Stephanie Weaver said these claims would delay the district’s ability to certify results.
“We found no evidence to support these claims,” she said. “All of our voting machines have been thoroughly tested prior to Election Day. When we received demands on election day, we immediately sent a machine technician to the police station to examine them. At that time, the machines were tested again and found to be error-free.”
Berks County plans to challenge the recount requests in court this week.
Recount requests are legal. But the State Department of Pa. says this is an organized effort by vote-resisting activists ‘Disregard the will of the people.’
Similar requests were made in Bucks, Lebanon and Forest counties, among others. Some recount requests have yet to be decided by Pa. courts.
Officials in Luzerne County, where paper shortages were causing polling problems on Election Day, were deadlocked Monday when determining whether to report official vote counts to the state, effectively preventing their confirmation of the results.
Two Democratic members of the Luzerne County Board of Elections and Voter Registration voted to confirm, both Republicans voted “no” and the fifth member, Democrat Daniel Schramm, abstained.
A judge extended voting in Lucerne by two hours to 10 p.m. during the Nov. 8 election after supplies ran out at some polling stations. It is unclear how many people were prevented from voting as a result.
In public comments ahead of Monday’s vote, people called the election “full of disenfranchisement,” called for the election to be repeated, and called for county election officials to step down.
Alyssa Fusaro, a member of the Lucerne Republican Electoral Board, said she could not vouch for the election being free and fair.
Fusaro said voters were turned away from the polling stations, the machines were jammed and out of paper, and normal voter privacy measures were not in place.
Board attorney Paula Radick said failure to certify the certification could result in litigation against the county by the state or by candidates.
Luzerne County in northeastern Pennsylvania is an area that has shifted votes from Democrats to Republicans in recent years. Democratic Governor-elect Josh Shapiro narrowly won Lucerne, while US Democratic Senator-elect John Fetterman lost the county by around 10,000 votes.
They said they contacted Luzerne County officials about their decision not to certify. They didn’t specify how many counties had confirmed their election results by Monday’s deadline.
After three counties refused to record absentee ballots from the May primary and refused state certification of aggregate results, ordered a judge that they are counted.
Full explanation of the Pa. Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
The counties have until today, November 28, to confirm their general election results to the State Department.
The department is aware of several recount petitions that have been filed in several counties across the Commonwealth. Countries are required by law to certify returns. Only in the case of a valid and properly filed recount application may a county withhold certification of election results for an office subject to the recount. Districts should certify races that are not the subject of such a properly submitted recount request. This partial certification process has been previously conducted and allows the secretary to certify the races unaffected by legitimate recount requests.
Once the department receives certified results from the counties for all electoral districts in which ballots were cast for a particular office, the department reviews and compiles official statements for the secretary to certify the final results for that office. Although there is no specific statutory deadline for the Secretary of the Commonwealth to confirm election feedback, Pennsylvania’s legislative sessions begin in December, and the department is expected to confirm feedback to Congress by mid-December.
Regarding Luzerne County, the department has reached out to its officials to inquire about the board’s decision and intended next steps.
Regarding Allegheny County, the department has no comment at this time. We’ll review what Allegheny sends to the department and then decide on next steps.