Pennsylvania County blocks confirmation of election results

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Officials in a northeastern Pennsylvania county where paper shortages were causing ballot problems on Election Day were deadlocked Monday determining whether to report official vote counts to the state, effectively preventing their certification 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.

Schramm said in a telephone interview a few hours later that after the meeting he received assurances that few, if any, voters would be unable to cast their votes and that all provisional ballots had been counted. He said he plans to vote to certify the results at a board meeting scheduled for Wednesday.

“I wanted to do some research to see exactly how many people just weren’t allowed to vote. I couldn’t find any,” said Schramm.

He said election officials contacted 125 voting judges from the county’s 187 wards, “and they reported that no one was turned away.”

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.

Monday is the deadline for counties to confirm general election results to the state. In a statement, the State Department said it was contacting Lucerne officials “to inquire about the board’s decision and intended next steps.”

During public comment ahead of Monday’s vote, attendees at the Wilkes-Barre election board meeting called the election “full of disenfranchisement,” called for the election to be repeated, and called for the 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.

Lucerne District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce, a Republican who is investigating at the request of the election board to determine why polling stations ran out of paper, said in a text Monday that “the investigation is progressing as expected.”

Luzerne County in northeastern Pennsylvania is an area that’s been trending with 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.

In Pittsburgh, the Allegheny County Board of Elections voted Monday to confirm results from 1,311 polling stations but did not vote to confirm results from 12 polling stations where recount requests were submitted.

A statement from the county government said its attorney is seeking to dismiss those challenges in the coming days because the people requesting the recount failed to also post $50 bonds for each ballot box to be recounted.

The State Department says only “valid and properly filed” recount applications can cause a county to withhold certification for the office affected by the recount effort.

“We will review what Allegheny transmits to the department and then decide on next steps,” the State Department said in an emailed statement.

After three counties refused to record mail-in votes from the May primary and withheld state certification of the totals, a judge ruled that they are counted.