This article is Spotlight PAcollaboration with vote beat, a bipartisan news agency covering local election administration and voting.This article may be reprinted under the terms of Votebeat reissue policy.
HARRISBURG — When polls close at 8 p.m. on Election Day, the nearly three-week process to finalize and certify results begins. In this process, candidates can challenge certain ballots, triggering lengthy legal battles that bring out the normal routine process. .
Such controversies are more likely because of the continued rhetoric of right-wing allegations of voter fraud, and because some county election commissions have resisted certifying all ballots from primary elections. has increased.
GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano, a Franklin County state senator, has led the indictment that calls into question the outcome of the 2020 election. repeated suggestions There will be fraud in this year’s contest. He has not disclosed whether he will accept this year’s results.
Meanwhile, Trump reportedly met with officials and campaigners from Pennsylvania at Trump Tower in September. rolling stoneTrump has expressed concern about possible fraud in the Senate election, especially in Philadelphia, and has warned of a media campaign and legal campaign in case his preferred candidate falls behind on election night. I was getting ready to start exercising.
Many of Pennsylvania’s fair elections advocates anticipate challenges in this year’s elections, saying the handling of proof of results and undated mail-in ballots will be particularly noteworthy.
Jeff Greenberg — Former Mercer County elections officer and now senior adviser to the Pennsylvania non-profit Voter Project, who explored the possibility of “counties trying to deny certification for any reason.” He said he was particularly concerned…it’s not legally viable. ”
Others, including JJ Abbott, executive director of Commonwealth Communications and former press secretary for Governor Tom Wolf, said some counties had disagreed with the state to prove the full results of the primary. I pointed out that I refused. Whether to include undated mail-in ballots. The dispute involved Burks, Fayette, and Lancaster counties and was resolved in court.
Abbott said the largest jurisdictions have been certified, while more reluctant counties “showed a little hand in the primary. Now we are more prepared.”
At a press conference in mid-October, Acting Secretary of State Lee Chapman did not answer reporters’ questions about what the state would do if the county again refused certification. Follow-up question from Votebeat and Spotlight PA this week In response, a department spokeswoman said the department “expects the county to comply with the law” and will “consider our options” if the county does not.
The question of whether undated or incorrectly-dated mail-in ballots should be considered valid remains murky and could very well again lead to legal issues as to which votes count in a fierce competition. high.
Earlier this week, The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania entered a stalemate on whether refusing such undated or incorrectly dated mail-in ballots violates federal civil rights law, as dates are a technicality that does not describe a voter’s eligibility. The court ruled that counties should not count undated or erroneously dated mail-in ballots and must keep them separate.
An order to separate the ballots would not be “further litigation and [the state Supreme Court justices] Former federal judge John E. Jones said at a press conference this week: Hosted by Keep Our Republicnon-profit organizations.
Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, Republican lawyers challenge the city’s decision Change the process to prevent double voting. According to the city, due to new state laws requiring continuous counting without breaks, counting can no longer be paused to reconcile in-person ballot records with lists of mail-in ballots received. The city has taken a time-consuming additional step in the past known as a “poll book settlement,” but now says new state law prohibits it and makes it unnecessary due to other safeguards. .
How Election Certification Works
The lengthy process of turning ballots into accredited election results will begin after polls close on Tuesday when they begin uploading results directly to county and State Department websites. in-person poll results must be uploaded at midnight or shortly thereafter. But tallies of all mail-in and absentee ballots received up to Election Day will continue non-stop into the next day in nearly every county, so those initial tallies will almost certainly change.
Of course, the first results are unofficial and far from final. Beginning Friday morning, November 11, the county will begin its official election canvas.
“The canvas just went through and we’re double and triple checking that every ballot is accounted for,” said Derek Mueller, a University of Iowa law professor who specializes in election law. Election officials are “verifying that everything is included and that all legally cast votes are included in that final tally.”
County elections offices will process provisional ballots during this period to determine if voters who cast provisional ballots have not yet submitted their vote-by-mail ballots or if their provisional ballots were ineligible for any reason. confirm.
The county also “coordinates” voting. In other words, it ensures that the number of voters recorded as voting in a particular precinct matches the number of votes counted from that precinct. Greenberg said discrepancies can occur when voters forget to sign their ballots at check-in.
County elections offices also conduct post-election audits during this period. The county must conduct a random recount of her sample of 2% of the votes cast or 2,000 votes, whichever is less. Many counties also began conducting risk-limiting audits after the 2020 election. For this audit, a random sample of ballots is counted by hand to ensure that the total matches the result of the tallying machine.
By the Tuesday after Election Day, November 15, the county must submit results — Up-to-date as possible, but still unofficial — To the State Department. These numbers may vary slightly as military and overseas votes, which must be received by the 15th, are counted and included in the tally.
County must certify final results by Monday, November 28.
Greenberg said the local elections commission, which is made up of county commissioners, must sign copies of the results twice for the election to be accredited. Typically, a candidate will challenge the voting process within her five-day window between her first signature and her second signature.
These complaints, in typical cases that Greenberg has seen, were caused by a precinct where the counting machine was not working properly, or where the county-reported results from the precinct did not match the number of voters who voted there. It may be based on the allegation that
Candidates may also file an objection within 20 days after the election using the Elections Act objection provisions.
“In this day and age, it can be anything,” said Greenberg. “It was unprecedented in my time.”
These objections do not relate to the counting of votes, but include issues such as the validity of ballots received through ballot boxes and the chain of custody of ballots transported from precincts to central counting stations to Greenburg. It may include those related to the method conducted. Said.
Marianne Schneider, senior voting rights policy adviser for the ACLU in Pennsylvania, said at a news briefing this week that candidates have the ability to challenge decisions by local election commissions about whether or not votes should be counted. I said yes. You can even appeal those decisions to the courts.
One such example is 2021 Conflict in Lehigh County We’ve made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court over undated mail-in ballots. The case was ultimately dismissed as nonsensical.
Trump’s attorneys “used these proceedings in 2020, but no further proceedings,” she said. I think we can find something.”
In 2020, Trump’s legal team tried to block counties from authenticating ballots, challenged the number and level of vote watcher access, and tried to prevent mail-in ballots from being counted. Lost all but one of the lawsuits filed in the state. How close pollsters can get to Philadelphia proceedings.
Trump also tried to declare victory before all votes were tallied. What he also inspired Mehmet Ozhis endorsed candidate for the U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania to do in the primary. he will accept the results of the election.
Abbott, who organized a press conference with Schneider and others this week, said he believes many of the tactics used to try to overturn Pennsylvania’s 2020 election results won’t work.
“We are actively trying to show that many of these cannot succeed or have failed in the past.
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