PA Recount Petition Delays Election Verification Spotlight PA

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A recount petition that claims no evidence of fraud during Pennsylvania’s 2022 election is now delaying certification of the state’s results.

A vague section of state law makes it easy to file such petitions, and right-wing groups seem to be taking advantage of its provisions to an unprecedented degree this year, ruining their jobs.

As of Thursday morning, 147 petitions had been filed in 41 counties, according to a spokesperson for the state court system.

The requests reviewed by Votebeat and Spotlight PA primarily target the gubernatorial and Senate campaigns won by Democrats Josh Shapiro and John Fetterman.

Petition first reported by Inquirer, at least three counties (Burks, Bucks, and Columbia) are experiencing certification delays, resulting in delayed certification of results statewide. The county was asked by the Pennsylvania State Department to certify by Monday.

“We’ve never seen it at a level like this year,” said Jeff Greenberg, former director of elections for Mercer County. “They have been around before, but they have never reached this level. is. [tabulation] machine.

Pennsylvania’s election law provides that three voters in any precinct may request a recount if they believe an election has been “rigged or erred.” The law specifically states that they are not required to provide evidence of their claims.

The State Department Advised County A statement Wednesday afternoon said the only reason for delaying certification was for a “legally valid and properly filed” recount petition, but the need to certify other races not covered by the recount petition. There is

Bucks County deputy director of public affairs Jim O’Malley said the county is waiting for a judge’s order on 22 individual petitions before proceeding with certification.

At least 56 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties — Chester, Allegheny, Westmorelandreceived a petition for recount— proved their results As of Wednesday. Columbia County plans to certify on Monday.

The petition appears to have knock-on effects for the Pennsylvania State Department, which needs to move forward with statewide certification. On Wednesday, Acting Secretary of State Lee Chapman was scheduled to join part of a panel on threats to elections in Washington, D.C., but was “postponed in Pennsylvania because of the certification process,” organizers said.

A spokesperson for her office said Thursday that the absence was due to “scheduling conflicts.”

Many of the petitions call for the recount to be done manually, one state law stating that the judge will direct “a person designated by such court or judge” to do the recount. pointing out the department. however, Case from earlier this year Regarding Lancaster County’s recount petition, the state’s federal court upheld a lower ruling that the law does not require such a recount. The judge granted the recount request, which was ultimately performed by machine.

A review of 100 petitions by Votebeat and SpotlightPA indicates that most are still awaiting judges’ rulings, but judges have so far denied these handcount requests. , some have cited this ruling to allow the recount to proceed.

Notably, because a judge in the Butler County Court of Civil Appeals had proved the precinct results even though the petitioner was an election inspector for the precinct in which the petitioner had alleged fraud or error had occurred. , dismissed three petitions. Judges said these workers had an opportunity to address their mistakes before proving the results and could not file complaints after the fact.

In other counties, including Columbia and Westmoreland, petitions moved forward and judges ordered recounts.

There was also disagreement among county judges over whether evidence of “fraud or error” had to be shown for the petition to be valid. Some judges point to different laws and dismissed the complaint for lack of evidence.

“The dismissal is mostly procedural,” said Elizabeth Grossman, a senior regulatory adviser at Informing Democracy, a nonprofit focused on the ballot-counting process that has tracked the petition.

The primary statute does not direct courts to assess the merits of petitions, but to determine whether they were timely filed by qualified voters.

“The fact that these recounts are going on doesn’t mean there is merit,” Grossman said.

Westmoreland County did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the results of the recount. He said he found only very small discrepancies that he could not.

“I think it’s just off by one or two. [votes]Constituency Assistant Director Thea Kallas spoke about the five constituencies. “It was very, very small.”

Karas said the complainant did not provide evidence of fraud or error to support the allegations. The county plans to certify on Monday, she said.

The law cited in the petition states that no evidence is required for the petition to be valid, but some requesters have alleged that certain types of ballot marking devices, such as improperly calibrated ballot marking devices, were found during court hearings. I am pointing out the problem.

Greenberg said this sort of thing could be a legitimate issue that would make voters want to detail results in a particular precinct, but that these petitions were “frivolous” without evidence. Worrying about being used for a reason…situations when there is a real problem.

The petition appears to be an effort by the Audit the Vote PA and other groups that have promoted unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about the election. First reported by the Inquirer last week. Audit the Vote’s Tonisuppe worked closely with Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug his Mastriano.

Voting PA Audit Encouraged tactics for the first time since May Mike Miller is the preferred candidate for the Lancaster County State Senate seat and the group’s efforts to persuade There he lost his bid to fire Republican Ryan Oment. The petition in that case was dismissed for technical reasons, but a petition filed against State House Speaker Brian Cutler proceeded to recount by machine.

In a statement Wednesday, Oment said the race subject to recounting was won by a wide margin and no one had presented evidence of fraud or procedural problems. added that it would only undermine any meaningful attempt at electoral integrity reform.

“If the law continues to be abused in this way, election officials will waste time protecting taxpayer funds and managing the manual recount of elections where there is no evidence of fraud. I think we need legislative changes to prevent that,” he said. He said. “I believe there must be some standard of proof or burden of proof before baseless accusations are made and taxpayer funds are ordered to undergo a costly recount.”

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