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HARRISBURG — With control of the Pennsylvania legislature at stake, attorneys for two closely contested Democratic and Republican candidates who have yet to convene battle over whether to count dozens of provisional ballots.
Most of the discussion boils down to relatively minor issues with ballots. Like if a voter said he signed in one place instead of two, wrote the date wrong, etc.
Bucks County’s 142nd and Montgomery County’s 151st congressional districts will either see Republicans retain control of the House or give Democrats control for the first time since 2010. . You have to win both.
Adam Bonin, who represents Democratic candidates in both races, said Republicans are leading these efforts to disqualify votes, calling them “opportunistic attempts to disenfranchise Democratic voters.” It is a very tack-tack challenge that has been submitted to .
According to him, Democrats are making similar objections to annull Republican votes.
Shohin Vance, the attorney representing the Republican candidate in the Bucks County pending election, admitted that Republican attorneys initially challenged a series of ballots cast only by non-Republican voters, but said: added to. Our agenda is aligned with partisan lines. ”
He said that Republican lawyers have opposed mail-in ballots for certain groups regardless of party, and that he was happy to agree when Democratic lawyers insisted that they also challenge Republican ballots.
Those few dozen votes matter.
As of Friday, Sixth-Term Rep. Todd Stevens of the 151st District led Democratic nominee Melissa Serato by 12 votes when Montgomery County officials last updated their polling numbers.
Only a few hundred votes have yet been counted in that constituency. County spokesperson Kelly CoFrancisco said the county had 36 uncounted military and foreign votes as of Tuesday afternoon, but could accept more votes by 5 p.m. Confirmed that it can be done. 49 mail ballots submitted by people who had not initially verified their identities. and 249 provisional votes.
County officials plan to consider a provisional vote on Friday, which is likely to be the earliest possible date for results in that race.
Despite fluctuating numbers, Democratic operatives told Spotlight PA they’re still behind Their assessment that there aren’t enough Republican ballots left To prevent the 151st House seats from being overthrown by their party. It’s the only victory needed to control Congress.
“We are confident in where we are and in Todd Stevens’ endeavor. [to] Throwing out the ballot is going to fail,” said Jason Sarus, a Democrat who heads the Montgomery County Democratic Commission.
In the 142nd Open race in Bucks County, Republican Joseph Hogan leads Democrat Mark Moffa by 114 votes as of Tuesday. But like Montgomery, that total doesn’t include provisional, overseas, or military votes. Nor does it include the dozens of ballots submitted to the dropboxes. These ballots were temporarily held as they were detained in an investigation of those who had posted multiple ballots.
Bucks County spokesperson James O’Malley said Tuesday that the county still had about 275 provisional ballots left, but those were deemed invalid based on objections from candidates or for another reason. said some of them were likely to be invalid.
At meetings Monday and Tuesday, Bucks and Montgomery county candidates and county party attorneys challenged several categories of the provisional ballot.
Documents shared with Spotlight PA show that in Montgomery County, Republicans filed 45 protests and Democrats filed 12.
Three arguments are most frequently recurring in Montgomery County disputes.
One argument reflecting the challenge posed by Republican National Committee, argues that a provisional ballot must be discarded if a voter casts a provisional ballot because a regular ballot-by-mail ballot that has already been submitted is defective. In other words, the argument is that provisional ballots cannot be used to rectify ballots by mail. Another argument is that a provisional ballot that a voter signed in only one place instead of two should be excluded. Third, provisional ballots incorrectly dated by voters should also not be counted.
Provisional ballots may also be excluded for other reasons. For example, if county officials discover that a voter has already cast a valid ballot by mail, or if they were ineligible to vote in the first place.
The challenges in the Bucks were similar, with both parties deemed eligible by county officials based on relatively minor flaws, such as a voter signing only once, according to people familiar with the case. He said he contested 20 to 30 ballots.
In both elections, county officials set aside some regular mail ballots because they weren’t dated or signed, or they were wrong, or they didn’t have a secret envelope. The Pennsylvania State Department has instructed counties not to tally these ballots, but case law on the issue remains unresolved.
Democrats can appeal to have these ballots counted, using the argument that refusal to count these ballots violates federal civil rights law.
Democrats have long viewed Pennsylvania’s 151st State Capitol district as the key to winning back the House, but have repeatedly been plagued by Stevens’ ability to continue to appeal to increasingly liberal voters.
In this latest contest, Serato tried to have an abortion – especially since Stevens’ party tried to limit it – the centerpiece of her campaign, Stevens campaigned for commitment to gun control and support from unions and environmental groups. All of this is unusual for a Republican.
Serato is a former legislative staffer of Liz Humbige, another Montgomery County House Democrat.
In the 142nd Congressional District, moderate Republican Rep. Frank Farley, who was elected in 2009, left a vacant purple seat when he ran for state Senate this year. Mofa, a journalist and borough council member, He also stressed his opposition to abortion restrictions. In competition with economic planner Hogan.
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