Recount Efforts Keep Election Certificates in Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – Election officials in Pennsylvania said Tuesday that “a handful” of counties have not fully reported the results of this month’s election, at least in part because organized efforts to seek recounts are pending in court.

The State Department declined to say how many of the state’s 67 counties missed the deadline for certification — the end of the day Monday.

“We continue to work with a handful of counties to get their full certification results,” agency spokeswoman Amy Gulli said in an email. “The situation is volatile as our team is actively receiving new information from the districts all the time. If the secretary formally confirms any of the findings, we will notify the media and the public via press release.”

Challenges organized or supported by Republican and other conservative groups are followed weeks after the election, with no evidence of issues that could alter the results, and after districts conduct post-election polls to verify vote counts are accurate.

The State Department needs certified election results from all counties so it can compile the official results that incumbent Secretary of State Leigh Chapman will present, including the high-profile contests for governor won by Attorney General Josh Shapiro and for the US Senate, which by Lt. Governor John Fetterman, both Democrats.

There’s no deadline for Chapman’s certification, but terms in the state Legislature begin next month, and the results of federal elections like the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives are usually submitted to Congress in mid-December, the agency said.

The state elections agency said Monday that counties are required to certify voter returns unless there is a “valid and properly filed recount request.” In those cases, the State Department says, counties should certify breeds not involved in the recount effort.

Recounts are not pursued because races were close enough to trigger automatic recounts or because contestants who would have to pay for them were lost.

In Berks County, the local Republican committee and 94 voters sought counts in more than two dozen counties last week. Clay Breece, the Berks GOP chair, said his group had collected reports that electronic machines switched the votes, but he did not claim the election was stolen.

Berks County government spokeswoman Stephanie Weaver said the allegations affect 30 of the county’s 202 counties.

“As for these petitions, we are still waiting for them to be assigned to a judge and scheduled for a court hearing,” Weaver said Tuesday.

Challenges in Westmoreland County held back certification in five of its 307 counties, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported, over allegations that voting machines were inaccurate and allegations that poll workers mishandled absentee ballots from people attempting to vote in person.

Three voters in Blair County requested a manual count of the gubernatorial and US Senate campaign votes from a single district in Altoona. During a hearing on Monday, the county attorney argued challengers would need to seek county-wide recounts as those two offices were up for a vote in all Blair counties.

“If they don’t make claims of a specific scam or error – which doesn’t just mean a general error, but that this is a scam, that’s the specific error – if they don’t specify that, every district needs to be opened up. Blair County Elections Attorney Nathan Karn said in a phone interview on Tuesday. He said the deadline to seek such a nationwide recount had passed.

The three voters’ lawyer, Thomas Forr, said a volunteer from Audit the Vote PA paid $102 in court fees, the Altoona Mirror reported. A message was left forr asking for a comment.

Audit the Vote PA chief Toni Shuppe declined to comment, saying in an email that her group “would not engage with propaganda media sources”. The judge on the matter has not decided whether to dismiss the application or order a recount.

In the canton of Lucerne, where paper shortages caused voting problems on Election Day, the Election Committee was deadlocked Monday over whether to report official vote counts to the state, but it appears the vote will take place on Wednesday. The Allegheny County Board of Elections voted Monday to confirm its election results at 1,311 polling stations but chose not to vote to confirm the results of 12 polling stations where recount requests had been submitted.