Recount requests are delaying voter certification in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Five weeks later election dayvictorious candidates in Pennsylvania from governor to congress are waiting for their victories to become official.

An effort that appears to be at least partially coordinated among Conservatives has inundated counties with requests for ballot recounts, although no races are close enough to require a recount and there have been no indications of potential problems.

The attempt to delay certification could foreshadow a possible strategy for the 2024 presidential election if results don’t turn out the way disappointed voters would like in one of the nation’s most contested states.

Recounts were conducted in 172 constituencies in 40% of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. This resulted in nine counties missing their November 29 certification deadline, although all but one have since been certified.

The Pennsylvania State Department gave no date for statewide certification of the findings in a response to The Associated Press Wednesday, but said it plans to honor a request from the Secretary of the U.S. House of Representatives to send certification documents to Congress by mid-December. Wednesday was December 14th.

Chris Deluzio, a Pittsburgh Democrat who was elected to the US House of Representatives in November, said the delay has had little impact on him so far. However, without his victory being official, the congressman-elect cannot send free mail like other congressmen, for example, do.

“I think when people are able to go to court and delay certification results without real evidence, that’s a problem, and I see some abuse of that process here,” Deluzio said.

Judges approved at least 19 county recounts in six counties. Those who requested the recounts said they wanted to verify the accuracy of the state’s voting equipment and procedures, and reiterated this Conspiracy claims of voting machine manipulation for which there is no evidence.

Brittany Crampsie, a political adviser involved in Pennsylvania Democratic campaigns, said she expects the recount tactic to continue “as long as Donald Trump and his cronies remain dominant in the Republican Party.”

“In a lot of these cases it’s purely political and it’s a waste of taxpayers’ money,” Crampsie said.

Rural District Commissions in Arizona and New Mexico delayed or threatened to confirm the results of this year’s primary or general elections, in each case without evidence that something was wrong with the vote count.

An AP poll of Pennsylvania County recounts found that the recount challenges changed vote counts little or not at all. The lack of any issues prompted a district judge to urge state legislatures to change Pennsylvania’s recount law.

Westmoreland Common Pleas Judge Harry Smail Jr. said in a footnote on orders granting recounts that such demands should be accompanied by specific allegations of error or fraud.

“A continued failure to remedy this deficiency will continue to burden the courts, polling stations, election boards, county executives and the voting public by allowing fabricated challenges without a shred of conclusive support for all and possibly all voter certification processes in future elections. ‘ Smail wrote.

Rep. Leanne Krueger, who heads the House Democratic campaign committee, said those who deny the results of the 2020 presidential election have been trying to stop election certification for several years.

“These petitions are largely unsuccessful because they are unfounded,” Krueger said. “And every time the county election committee is asked to do something like that, they force taxpayers’ money to be spent on elections that have already been decided.”

State law requires recounts to be conducted for all voting districts where ballots were cast in a particular race. For statewide competitions, this means all counties within a county. There is an exception to allow narrower recounts if the petitioners claim “a specific instance of fraud or error has occurred” and they provide evidence to support this.

A lack of evidence or specific allegations were the reasons given by many judges who denied requests for a recount.

At least two of the recount requests were supported by local Republican Party groups. It’s unclear if the broader inquiry effort is also related to Audit the Vote PA, a group formed out of the in early 2021 misconception that something was wrong with 2020 Pennsylvania Presidential Results, Where Trump lost to Democrat Joe Biden. Audit the Vote PA founder Karen Taylor submitted a recount request in Westmoreland County.

The group’s co-founder Toni Shuppe said during a Nov. 28 question-and-answer session on social media platform Rumble that people had found a way to petition, but she didn’t credit the effort to her organization to.

“It’s our sacred voice and this movement is not going away and people are not going to shut up,” Shuppe said on the online forum, demanding that ballots be counted by hand.

The motions have generally been for hand counts in the gubernatorial and US Senate races, but some have also asked for total votes for the US House of Representatives and for state representatives to be reviewed. Many used a form letter with spaces to fill in the district and county.

The AP district poll yielded no recount requests from candidates who lost tight contests.

Several petitioners were turned away for working as poll workers on November 8 and confirming the results were correct. Others were denied for not living in the county for which a recount was requested or for failing to pay a required $50 bail.

Some counties scheduled for recounts had already submitted their overall results to the State Department before being notified of the legal action, but others had not yet confirmed any or only partial results.

Lycoming County Election Commissioner Forrest Lehman said defending a single recount petition required making copies of ballot books and collecting a variety of records.

“We felt compelled to be prepared for anything,” Lehman said. “It certainly took hours of my time and then hours of our legal time.”


Schultz is a corps member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that brings journalists into local newsrooms to cover undercover topics.


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Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission. Recount requests are delaying voter certification in Pennsylvania

Sarah Y. Kim

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