VOTE COUNT 2020: Continuous coverage from the Pennsylvania Capital-Star

(Capital-Star photo by Michala Butler).

This is your destination for continuous coverage of the vote count across Pennsylvania today. Check back all day for updates.

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4 weeks ago

8:10 pm

On the streets of Philadelphia, celebration over Biden’s win — and some skepticism

By: Rjaa Ahmed

PHILADELPHIA – Thousands of people are took to the streets of Philadelphia on Saturday to celebrate President-Elect Joe Biden’s victory after Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes allowed him to surpass the 270 required to win the presidency.

The Associated Press projected Biden as the winner, taking 279 electoral votes, including 20 from Pennsylvania.

As soon as the news broke out, people started honking their car horns, shouting, dancing and bangin pots and pans outside their houses. Videos posted on Twitter also show overjoyed crowds doing backflips and waving Biden-Harris campaign flags, as well as posters saying “Black Lives Matter.”

“I’m here to celebrate Joe Biden. Everyone’s spirits are so high compared to 2016,” said Sage Levine, 21, a student at the University of Pennsylvania who was part of the crowd on Broad Street outside City Hall.

In West Philadelphia, hundreds of people gathered at Clark Park to sing, dance and chant anti-Trump slogans.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney spoke to a crowd outside Independence Mall, declaring “It’s always sunny in Philadelphia.” Kenney also likened the celebration to a “second Super Bowl” and deemed the victory a historical moment, CBS News reported.

“I just want you to understand that when you want to know who got this done, who got Biden-Harris elected, look around at each other because it’s all you,” Kenney said. “Politicians do so much, sometimes they do too much, sometimes they say too much, but when working people decide to go do something, they go out and get it done and that’s what I’m proud of.”

Outside City Hall, people kicked around an inflatable doll with a picture of President Trump. People were also seen waving around satirical Trump balloons, pride flags and anti-police posters.

“Biden is a good and ethical leader and that’s a significant change the county needs,” said Christine O’Donnell, 48, who was celebrating outside City Hall.

Despite the ongoing celebration, many residents also expressed healthy skepticism about Biden’s victory.

“We know that the objective conditions that led to Trump’s rise are not different under Biden,” said Ted Kelly, 31, a member of the Workers World Party. “The important thing for us is to keep fighting white supremacy, ableism and sexism and for the working class – sex workers, gig workers, unemployed.”

“Were glad people are happy but the struggle is not over,” Kelly added.

 

Last updated:8:14 pm

4 weeks ago

8:09 pm

State lawmakers, militia rally at state Capitol staring down Trump loss

By: Stephen Caruso

Armed Three Percent militia members and supporters of President Donald Trump stand outside the Pennsylvania state Capitol on Nov. 7, 2020 at a rally in support of his reelection. National news media called the race for his opponent, Joe Biden, earlier that day, (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

As supporters of projected presidential winner Joe Biden supporters took to the streets in celebration across the commonwealth Saturday, Harrisburg was instead visited by more than a thousand supporters of President Donald Trump.

The crowd, which included armed militia members and state lawmakers alike, argued without evidence that Trump was only losing due to voter fraud.

Around 11:30 a.m. Saturday, multiple news outlets predicted Biden would win Pennsylvania, giving the former vice president and Democrat more than the 270 electoral votes he needs to win the White House.

By noon, hundreds of Trump supporters were crammed onto the sidewalk outside the state Capitol, as a smaller number of Biden supporters celebrated on the steps to “The Cupid Shuffle.” Police kept the groups separated because the Biden group had secured a permit for that time.

Pro-Trump protests, led by an out-of-state activist, had been ongoing outside the Capitol since Thursday.

After about 45 minutes of trading chants and waving signs, the Trump supporters walked to the back of the Capitol to listen to speeches from campaign officials, varied supporters, and state lawmakers.

Supporters chanted that “Donald Trump won,” as well as “hold the line” when asked if they’d be ready to visit counties and take to the streets for the defeated president.

“Stand by. Be alert and be ready,” Rose Tennant, a leader of the Women for Trump group, said to cheers.

Tennant, a western Pennsylvania radio host, told the crowd to report any presumed voted fraud to the campaign, and to donate to the campaign’s legal fund — which also is authorized to pay down Trump’s accumulated campaign debt.

Heather Hollinger, 37, of Carlisle, Cumberland County, showed up Saturday with a stroller holding an old Halloween skeleton she fished from her closet. Clutched in the skeleton boney hands was an “I voted Biden” sign.

“I don’t think Biden can win without fraud,” Hollinger said. “But I can accept it. I wouldn’t be burning buildings.”

There is no evidence of fraud right now, which Hollinger acknowledged. But she thought a legal fight would reveal evidence that would turn the tide for the president.

In a brief press conference Saturday outside of Philadelphia, the Trump campaign refused to concede, citing ongoing legal challenges. Most are being tossed in federal court.

The crowd also heard from a few state elected officials, including state Sen. Mike Regan, R-Cumberland, state Rep. Frank Ryan, R-Lebanon, and state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin.

“Ya know, if [Biden] wins fair and square, that’s okay. But if it’s by cheating, what do you say?” Mastriano asked the crowd.

“Hell no!” they answered. 

He also called Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, whose office oversees elections in the commonwealth, a “partisan hack,”

“[Democrats] don’t want it secure and safe. They want to cheat in the election, and they will,” Mastriano added. “This is our time to rise up. If you love our country, it’s time to stand.”

“Those who lie and cheat and steal will be thrown in jail,” Mastriano concluded.

The crowd then began to chant “lock them up.”

Mastriano then mingled with rally attendees, but declined to take questions.

Later, a dozen armed members of a Three Percenter militia, a far right paramilitary group, arrived at the rally. Some were from Pennsylvania, but others were from as far away as Texas, such as Taylor Stevens, who addressed the crowd.

“All I knew there is there would be a lot of Trump supporters out here, and there was possibly going to be opposition,” Stevens said.

Afterwards, the Trump supporters, including the armed militia members circled back to the front of the Capitol, exchanging words with a small remaining cohort of Biden backers. The militia left around 5 p.m. Some Trump supporters thanked them for protecting the rally as they departed.

Trump protests are expected to continue Sunday.

Last updated:10:21 pm

4 weeks ago

5:17 pm

Trump, Biden supporters take to the streets in Erie

By: Hannah McDonald

ERIE, Pa. — Shortly after Pennsylvania was called for for former Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday morning, people started taking to the sidewalks outside the Erie County courthouse. 

As the projected President-Elect has touted a message of unity to end the stark political division between Americans, area residents  literally separated themselves on either side of 6th Street. 

On the north side, roughly 50 supporters of President Donald Trump took turns speaking into a microphone from the courthouse steps, calling for an election recount and praying. On the south side of the street, people gathered in similar numbers to sing, celebrate and chant: “USA! USA!” 

“I’m here just because I believe in Donald Trump and I believe he was screwed out of his election,” Pam Bair, of Millcreek Township, an Erie suburb, told the Capital-Star. 

“I’m so fed up, so disgusted. I support him. I will support him to no end,” Bair continued. She stood on the west end of the sidewalk with her daughter — who denied comment. “I believe we don’t need a recount. I believe we need a re-vote,” Bair said.

The mood of Trump supporters was frustrated and vaguely somber. 

Across the street the crowd maintained a much different energy. Demonstrators on the south side of 6th Street turned out, “because love has won today; The love for democracy, the love of unity, the love of inclusion,” Jason C. Brendel, of Erie,  told the Capital-Star.  

“Everyone has come together today because guess what? We are in the county that has been most watched by the world. Erie County went blue, the commonwealth went blue today, and so did the nation. So we, in Erie County, we made a difference,” Brendel said. Brendel is an Erie County LGBT Democrat Committee Member, among other positions in the community. 

“The voters came out, the volunteers came out,” he told the Capital-Star, “and the best thing is: We are no longer red states, we are no longer blue states. We are no longer Republicans, we are no longer Democrats. We are ‘We the People.’”

To some of the people though, “None of this seems fair,” Bair told the Capital-Star. 

It doesn’t sit right with Greg Hayes either, who addressed the crowd on the courthouse steps. Hayes was the Republican write-in candidate for state House. He lost to incumbent Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie.

It’s not about the election, he told the Capital-Star; “It’s just about a fair, actual ballot [count]. It’s pretty hard when you win on the day of, and then it more than reverses with the write-ins. Well, obviously, common sense would say you wanna look at the write-ins.”

By “write-ins,” Hayes meant mail-in ballots. 

Yet, “All of the disputes, the legal challenges, they’ve been baseless and most of them have been thrown out. They don’t have any evidence and there’s no reason to call for a recount,” Erie County Democratic Party Chairman Dr. Jim Wertz, told the Capital-Star. “Here in Erie County in particular — and I think throughout the state — Joe Biden will be well beyond the threshold of a recount.”

“So if the Trump campaign wants a recount,” Wertz said, “they’re gonna have to call for it and they’re gonna have to pay for it.”

Unofficial election tallies by the Pennsylvania Department of State show Biden leading Trump with 3,344,182 votes to 3,310,423. In Erie County, unofficial tallies show Biden leading Trump by 1,499 votes cast either by mail-in ballots or on Election Day. Erie County has yet to count provisional ballots.

4 weeks ago

4:59 pm

Congressional Repubs, without evidence, accuse Wolf, Dems of ‘putting their thumbs’ on electoral scale

By: John L. Micek

The Republican members of Pennsylvania’s congressional delegation fell in line behind President Donald Trump on Saturday, accusing the Democratic Wolf administration, without evidence, of “[putting] their thumbs on the scale in pursuit of what they believe should be a preordained outcome.”

In a joint letter to Gov. Tom Wolf, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, and Attorney General Josh Shapiro, the nine GOP congressional lawmakers reiterated Republican concerns about guidance from Boockvar’s office that allows Pennsylvania’s 67 counties to count ballots, postmarked by 8 p.m. on Election Day, that arrived by Friday at 5 p.m.

The lawmakers who signed the letter are: U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st District; Dan Meuser, R-9th District; Scott Perry, R-10th District; Lloyd Smucker, R-11th District; Fred Keller, R-12th District; John Joyce, R-13th District; Guy Reschenthaler, R-14th District; Glen ‘GT’ Thompson, R-15th District and Mike Kelly, R-16th District.

“The citizens of the Commonwealth do not just expect free and fair elections, they deserve free and fair elections. We believe that every legal vote should be counted, and it is compulsory for the Secretary of the Commonwealth to discount any votes that do not meet the letter of the law,” they wrote.

In a statement, the Republicans called on the Democratic administration to ensure that “every legal ballot is counted once,” though there is no evidence that ballots are being counted anything other than once.

On Friday, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito ordered counties to segregate those late-arriving ballots — a step that Boockvar said counties were already taking. Without providing evidence themselves, the nine lawmakers asserted that “there has been little evidence to support these statements.”

The nine Republicans also called on Shapiro, a Democrat whom unofficial tallies showed winning a second, four-year term, to recuse himself from any election-related litigation. The nine, who also won re-election on Tuesday by hitching their fortunes to Trump, described Shapiro as a “highly partisan political candidate,” who could not impartially represent the commonwealth.

“As many of these issues will now be addressed by the United States Supreme Court, we remain concerned about the integrity of the election and continued attempts by the administration and its officials . These actions continue to chip away at the foundation of our representational democracy and challenges the citizens of Pennsylvania’s faith in their government. We implore you to put politics aside and provide these requests all due consideration,” the lawmakers argued.

Last updated:6:09 pm

4 weeks ago

4:25 pm

The race may be called, but in Centre County, the count goes on.

By: Elizabeth Hardison

When the Associated Press called Pennsylvania for Joe Biden on Saturday morning, putting him over the 270 electoral vote-threshold he needed to capture the presidency, the Centre County Board of Elections didn’t stop processing ballots.

(Screen Capture)

Counties across Pennsylvania have already reported 98 percent of the in-person and mail-in vote totals in the Nov. 3 General Election.

Centre County officials convened at 9 a.m. Saturday morning to start the next, painstaking stage of the vote count: vetting roughly 600 provisional ballots, which were cast on Election Day by voters who had doubts about their eligibility.

As Biden declared victory in the presidential race and leaders across the world started to recognize him as the winner on Saturday, election officials across Pennsylvania remain in the early stages of a meticulous vote count that will take weeks to officially complete. 

Counties may work into next week processing provisional ballots, which are on track to exceed 100,000 statewide, according to WITF-FM

They also have until Tuesday to receive mail-in ballots cast by military members and overseas voters, which must be scanned, counted and added to the race totals, too. 

It’s unlikely that these ballots will affect the outcome of the presidential election. Media outlets such as  the Associated Press only call races when a trailing candidate has no possible path to victory, based on data including the number of outstanding ballots.

But “regardless of any calls or projections that anybody is making, we are still committed to counting every vote,” Centre County Commissioner Michael Pipe said Saturday, according to the Centre Daily Times.

Pennsylvania counties received an abnormally high number of provisional ballots this year due to the state’s expanded vote by mail law. The law allows approved mail-in voters to vote provisionally at the polls if they lost their mail-in ballot or didn’t receive it by Election Day. 

Election officials have to vet each provisional ballot before tabulating and adding it to the county’s vote total. A ballot can be rejected if the voter who cast it is not registered to vote in the county where they cast it, or if officials find they’ve already cast another ballot.  

As Centre County solicitor Elizabeth Depuis said over the meeting’s live stream Saturday, “It’s a labor-intensive process.”

Over the course of nearly three hours Saturday, the Centre County Election Board heard reports of provisional ballots cast at each voting precinct, including how many were flagged for rejection and why. 

County commissioners inspected each ballot in a secrecy envelope, and couldn’t see the vote inside before accepting or disqualifying it. 

Some ballots, including many in areas with large concentrations of student housing, were rejected because voters were not registered in Centre County. 

Others were disqualified because the voter had not signed an affidavit certifying that they had not cast another ballot.

The board will reconvene next week to finish the count. Even then, their work on the 2020 General Election will be far from complete. 

Once they count every ballot, county officials have to double check their work and complete an audit of the results to make sure they’re accurate.

State law gives counties 20 days to finalize their count and vote to certify their results. Until they do – typically in the days before Thanksgiving – the results of the election are considered “unofficial.

4 weeks ago

1:06 pm

Trump will not concede election, Guiuliani says in Philadelphia

By: Elizabeth Hardison

President Donald Trump does not plan to concede the presidential election, one of his top advisors said Saturday, minutes after major news networks called the race in Vice President Joe Biden’s favor. 

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani appeared before reporters in Philadelphia shortly before noon Saturday to announce that the Trump campaign would instead bring a fresh salvo of lawsuits in battleground states including Pennsylvania, where lawyers would allege widespread fraud in mail-in voting and challenge the limitations some counties placed on campaign poll watchers. 

“Obviously Trump is not going to concede when at least 600,000 ballots are in question,” Giuliani said, referring to those counted in Democratic strongholds in Philadelphia and Allegheny County.

The Trump campaign began filing lawsuits in battleground states as Trump’s lead over Biden diminished in the days after the Nov. 3 election. Federal judges in Michigan and Georgia have already dismissed two this week. 

The president appeared to be in the lead on election night as counties reported results from in-person voting precincts, but his edge over Biden diminished as counties started tabulating mail-in ballots – a method of voting that’s favored by Democrats and has been assailed by Trump with baseless claims that it’s susceptible to fraud.

Giuliani claimed that the president could not have lost his election night lead “without corruption.” But the results of mail-in ballots were reported slowly because Pennsylvania is one of only four states that does not permit counties to open them on Election Day, and the Republican-controlled General Assembly did not reach an agreement with Gov. Tom Wolf to change that law before the election. 

4 weeks ago

12:48 pm

In Harrisburg, Biden and Trump supporters hold dueling rallies

By: Stephen Caruso

(*This developing story will be updated)

As news of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory spreads, the Capital-Star is reporting reactions to the news across Pennsylvania.

Reporter Stephen Caruso is at the Capitol Complex in Harrisburg where Biden supporters are celebrating and Trump supporters are protesting the election results, backing the president’s false claims of election fraud.

 

Last updated:12:48 pm

4 weeks ago

12:12 pm

‘Honored and humbled’ Joe Biden declares victory

By: Cassie Miller

In a statement on his campaign site Saturday, Joe Biden declared victory after multiple sources named him the projected winner of Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes, bringing his total to 273.

The statement reads:

“My fellow Americans —

I am honored and humbled by the trust the American people have placed in me and in Vice President-elect Harris.

In the face of unprecedented obstacles, a record number of Americans voted. Proving once again, that democracy beats deep in the heart of America.

With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation.

It’s time for America to unite. And to heal.

We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.”

4 weeks ago

12:03 pm

How Pennsylvania politicians reacted to Joe Biden’s win

By: Cassie Miller

*This developing story will be updated.

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa.:

State Rep. Chris Rabb, D-Philadephia:

Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, D-Philadelphia: 

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman:

Former Gov. Tom Ridge

U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-2nd District:

U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-4th District:

U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon, D-5th District:

U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-6th District:

U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-17th District:

Last updated:1:30 pm

4 weeks ago

11:53 am

REPORT: W. Pa.’s Conor Lamb wins reelection

By: Cassie Miller

Conor Lamb won reelection to Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District Saturday, the Associated Press reports.

Lamb defeated Republican challenger Sean Parnell 51.1 to 48.9 percent, a margin of just 8,991 votes, according to unofficial tallies.

Last updated:12:14 pm

4 weeks ago

10:56 am

Pgh voters approve ballot measure expanding powers of Citizen Police Review Board

By: Special to the Capital-Star

By Hannah Lynn

PITTSBURGH — While the votes are still being counted in Pennsylvania, not everything is as close a call as the presidential election. In the city of Pittsburgh, voters overwhelmingly passed a referendum to expand the powers of the Citizen Police Review Board.

Pittsburgh Police officers during a protest on June 1 (Pittsburgh City Paper photo)

The ballot question, which passed with 78 percent of the votes, according to unofficial tallies, asked voters to approve amending the city’s Home Rule Charter “to allow the Board to require police officers to participate in investigations, conducting performance audits of the Police Bureau, and preventing the removal of Board members except for just cause and with City Council approval.”

Essentially, the referendum would force police officers under investigation for misconduct to cooperate with the Citizen Police Review Board (currently, cooperation is not required). Officers could also be fired for refusing to cooperate with the CPRB.

The CPRB, an independent agency that investigates citizen complaints against the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, was created in 1997 after failed efforts by the City Council, when the U.S. Department of Justice “scrutinized the conduct of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police as a result of alleged patterns or practices of civil rights violations.”

The passing of the referendum comes after a summer filled with Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality in Pittsburgh, and across the country. Residents have been voicing demands for various types of police reform, especially after multiple incidents in which Pittsburgh Police confronted protesters with force, including using chemical spray like tear gas and projectiles like rubber bullets.

“I believe we can work together to facilitate police reform,” councilor Ricky Burgess, who introduced the ballot measure in June, told TribLive. “This is part of our agenda and campaign to make Black Pittsburgh matter.”

While the referendum does not directly affect how police officers conduct themselves — the CPRB does not have the power to enforce conduct — it is a step toward greater accountability for officers’ actions while on duty.

According to PublicSource, “Between 1998 and 2017, 3 percent of the more than 3,000 complaints CPRB received resulted in public hearings, one of the final stages of the board’s process.” The CPRB faces difficulty taking action because it does not always have the cooperation of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the union that represents the Pittsburgh Police.

In October, FOP president Robert Swartzwelder told WESA-FM that the referendum is “a waste of taxpayer money and time,” and hinted that the FOP could challenge the referendum if it passed.

“They could put that on the referendum, the citizens could vote for it, but if challenged by the Fraternal Order of Police, that referendum would become null and void,” said Swartzwelder.

Hannah Lynn is a reporter for Pittsburgh City Paper, where this story first appeared.

Last updated:10:57 am

4 weeks ago

9:26 pm

Election expert: We need to be ‘vigilant’ on Saturday of difficulties as a result counter protests

By: Kenny Cooper

Experts from the National Task Force on Election Crises said on Friday that the story so far has been the lack of political violence but that Saturday is a day to keep an eye on. 

“The story here is a little bit of a nothingburger from the violence perspective. And that’s great. That’s what we like to see,” Rachel Kleinfeld, a senior fellow of the Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a non-partisan think tank, said.

However, Kleinfeld said that Saturday may be a “difficult day” as groups on the right organize more counter protests.

Other task force experts addressed other post-Election Day concerns such as the possibility of faithless electors.

“In 2016, there were a handful of presidential electors who did not vote for the candidate who won the popular vote in their state. I think that was mostly a failure of vetting by the candidates and the parties who selected those folks. They didn’t make sure that the electors were going to do the right thing,” Adav Noti, senior director for trial litigation and chief of staff at the Campaign Legal Center, said.

Noti said that he does not expect that to happen this time around.

When addressing this false narrative that Republican state legislatures can overrule its state’s electors, Noti said that under federal law it cannot happen after Election Day.

“And even if they were to try to do that, it would violate the constitutional rights of the voters in that state who have a right to vote and right to have their votes counted for the candidate that they voted for,” Noti said.

One task force expert tried to assuage concerns about an election being resolved in court.

“But just because there’s litigation now does not mean that we should think about this election being resolved in court, let alone being resolved with the U.S. Supreme Court,” Joshua Geltzer, executive director and visiting professor at Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy & Protection, said. “The litigation, thus far, filed by the Trump campaign has gone nowhere fast. It’s been rejected across the board, and in some cases abandoned on appeal.”

Last updated:9:26 pm

4 weeks ago

8:19 pm

SCOTUS directs Pa. to segregate ballots, won’t stop ballot counting

By: Cassie Miller

The fight over mail-in ballots in Pennsylvania continues with the U.S. Supreme Court approving Republicans’ request to segregate the state’s mail-in ballots that were returned after Election Day.

 The Washington Post and MSNBC report that Justice Samuel Alito, who has jurisdiction over the region including Pennsylvania, approved the request, but called for Pennsylvania state officials to respond by Saturday, Nov. 7.

The request likely won’t affect much even if SCOTUS sides with Republicans, as  Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar confirmed earlier this week that these ballots were already being segregated by local election offices per the department’s request.

4 weeks ago

7:07 pm

Conservatives activists, lawmakers up the pressure for Legislature to intervene in ballot count

By: Stephen Caruso

As the counting of Pennsylvania mail-in ballots continued Friday, conservative state legislators and astroturf activists have begun to make their voices heard in Harrisburg for state lawmakers to take action.

A Republican operative from Virginia has begun organizing protests on the Capitol steps as of Thursday, attracting a few dozen Trump supporters to push for local lawmakers to “stop the steal” of the presidential election. There is no evidence that the election is being stolen. 

“Why are we here, and our representatives aren’t?” Scott Presler, the Virginia operative, told the crowd Friday. Attendees agreed.

Andrew Walker, a 32-year old resident of New Holland, Lancaster County, and founder of Lancaster County for Trump, told the Capital-Star that he hoped legislators would “would get in that building, stop the count [and] throw out the ballots counted already with no observations.”

Poll watchers of both parties were, briefly, restricted from having access to Philadelphia’s ballot counting facility. A federal and state lawsuit have already resolved the issue, though an appeal is pending before the state Supreme Court.

Some Republican lawmakers are also beginning to ask for a more assertive General Assembly.

“I am incensed at the overreach of the Secretary of State and the Supreme Court in this election,”  Rep. Frank Ryan, R-Lebanon, told the Capital-Star in a text message. He added he was “prepared to have the Legislature intervene.”

Another conservative, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, put out a press release Friday calling for legislative oversight of the count. He added that the General Assembly “must also be prepared to use all Constitutional authority to right these wrongs and fully restore election integrity.”

Appointing electors via the legislative process would likely break state law, but could be appealed in federal court as a federal issue, as the U.S. Constitution gives the power to appoint electors to state legislatures.

One other conservative House Republican expressed frustration with party leadership for not taking up a final vote on a controversial resolution to establish an election integrity committee before the elections.

Such a committee was a “remedy to solve this issue, and they didn’t have the courage to allow a vote when it mattered,” they said.

Concerns from moderates and other vulnerable Republicans ahead of the election helped sink the committee before the election.

But even as Biden continues to improve his margin, down ballot Republicans have done well throughout the state. It has put the GOP-controlled General Assembly in an uncomfortable position of balancing their own political future as well as, potentially, the president’s.

Speaking to the press earlier this week, House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, declined to comment on Trump’s unsubstantiated own claims of voter fraud and legal efforts to filing a lawsuit to halt the ballot count stop counting ballots in Philadelphia.

“That’s actually something his campaign will handle,” Benninghoff said. “That’s independent of what we’re doing. We’re just trying to get the vote totals in our own state from the president’s race on the way down to our own house members.”

Benninghoff also dismissed the idea of the General Assembly appointed presidential electors, citing a lack of legal authority.

“Right now we are focused on maintaining our majority.” Benninghoff said.

As of Friday, House Republican leadership, including Benninghoff and Speaker Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, have called for an audit of the election results before the Department of State certified them.

Mike Straub, Cutler’s spokesperson, said the final audit would look like a report published by the Department of State on the 2020 primary, including data on ballots, polling places, and voting errors.

“A complete audit into the processes will show us if the law was followed, what led to counties doing things differently,” Straub said in an email.

He added that it is “certainly possible” ballots could be disqualified from the audit, “but only if we can determine what processes failed in the process that may have led to an invalid ballot being counted in the first place.”

While Trump has, without evidence, cited election fraud for his deteriorated lead in Pennsylvania, neither House or Senate Republican leadership have backed the president’s claim outright.

Instead, GOP leaders have focused their criticisms on Gov. Tom Wolf’s policies and decisions expanding ballot access by the state Supreme Court as making the count more confusing and less trustworthy.

“They’ve done such a great disservice by all their shenanigans through this process, that even if Joe Biden hypothetically was the winner, half the population here in Pennsylvania won’t believe it,” Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman said in a Fox News interview Friday.

4 weeks ago

6:25 pm

Dems claims victory in DelCo state Senate seat

By: Stephen Caruso

Democrats have claimed victory in a suburban Philadelphia state Senate seat, only the second legislative victory they’ve claimed this election.

In the 9th Senate District, made up of parts of Delaware and Chester counties, Democrat John Kane has claimed victory over Republican state Sen. Tom Killion. The district includes such municipalities as Chester, Kennett Square, and Rose Valley.

Unofficial results on the Department of State website show Kane up by about 5,000 votes on Killion, leading 52-48 percent.

In a late afternoon statement, Kane said he expected his lead to increase, and thanked his supporters.

“This campaign was always about working people and the need to have a voice at the table,” Kane said. “I’m proud to be the champion of working families and I will never stop fighting on their behalf.”

He also thanked Killion for his service in the General Assembly.

Killion, first elected in a 2016 special election, was viewed as among the most moderate Republicans in the General Assembly, and was considered a top target for Democrats in 2020. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the district by about 14 percentage points.

In a message to his supporters on Facebook, Killion conceded shortly after Kane’s release.

“While I hoped for a different outcome, I respect the choice of my fellow citizens and I congratulate John Kane on his victory,” Killion wrote.

The race has not yet been called by the Associated Press.

Kane’s win does not improve Democrats standing in the upper chamber, however. The AP has called one western Pennsylvania Senate race against Democrats, while a second is still too close to call. Currently, Democrats hold 21 out of 50 seats in the Senate.

It is one of just two flips Democrats are currently claiming. They have also claimed victory in the 152nd House District, an open seat held by Republicans in Montgomery County and parts of Philadelphia.

There, Democrat Nancy Guenst is leading her Republican opponent 51-42, with an independent taking 7 percent of the vote, according to unofficial results.

The 203-member House is currently 109-93 for the GOP. Republicans appear likely to add to their majority when all races are called.

4 weeks ago

5:51 pm

Pa. Rep. Ryan claims office has been ‘inundated with allegations of voter fraud’

By: Cassie Miller

In email to constituents Friday, state Rep. Frank Ryan, R-Lebanon, claimed his office has been “inundated with allegations of voter fraud,” but provided no examples or proof of those claims. Ryan also did not mention what steps his office took after receiving those complaints.

In the statement, Ryan falsely called the state Supreme Court’s decision to allow ballots postmarked on Nov. 3 and received up to three days after the election “illegal.”

The former Marine cast doubt on the commonwealth’s elections, saying, “I believe elections in Iraq are far more secure today than here in Pennsylvania, based on what is happening now.

Ryan also cast doubt on Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration and Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar’s ability to run a secure election in Pennsylvania.

“I have lost confidence in Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and we are calling on her to resign,” Ryan wrote in a statement.

In an opinion issued last month, the U.S. Supreme Court wrote that the state Supreme Court likely overstepped its bounds. But Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the court would not grant a request to overturn the ruling with the election looming.

U.S. Supreme Court turns down Pa. Republicans’ request to halt extended ballot deadline

“That question has national importance, and there is a strong likelihood that the State Supreme Court decision violates the Federal Constitution,” Alito said then. “But I reluctantly conclude that there is simply not enough time at this late date to decide the question before the election.”

Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch joined Alito’s opinion.

4 weeks ago

5:50 pm

In the fine print: Donations to Trump’s ‘election defense fund’ will be partially used to pay off campaign debt

By: Kenny Cooper

(*This story was updated at 7:53 p.m. on 11/6/20)

Sixty percent of all of the contributions made to the Trump campaign’s Official Election Defense Fund will actually go to alleviating the campaign’s debt, according to the fine print on WinRed, a GOP fundraising site.

If you visit the homepage of the official Trump campaign website, you will be met with a pop-up ad for the Official Election Defense Fund that says, “we need to fight back!” 

A click on the pop-up ad will take you to WinRed platform which hosts this fundraising effort by the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, which is a collaborative fundraising committee between the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee.

The ad’s page meant to fund litigation and recount efforts includes falsehoods surrounding the ballot counting efforts happening in several battleground states like Pennsylvania.

“President Trump needs YOU to step up to make sure we have the resources to protect the integrity of the Election,” the Trump campaign’s fund says.

But after a quick scroll down the page to the fine print, it is revealed that 60 percent of all contributions will actually go to relieve the campaign’s debt. And the other 40 percent — will go to the RNC.

“60% to DJTP for deposit in DJTP’s 2020 General Election Account for the retirement of general election debt (up to a maximum of $2,800/$5,000) or, if such debt has been retired or any portion of the contribution would exceed the limit to the 2020 General Election Account, for deposit in DJTP’s Recount Account (up to a maximum of $2,800/$5,000); 40% to the RNC’s Operating account (up to a maximum of $35,500/$15,000); and any additional funds to the RNC for deposit in the RNC’s Legal Proceedings account or Headquarters account (up to a maximum of $213,000/$90,000).” the website says.

If you attempt to contribute to the campaign generally through normal avenues, then 50 percent of your contribution will go to settling the campaign’s debt and the other 50 percent will go to the Recount Account, according to the fundraising posting

“By donating through this page, you agree that your contribution to DJTFP will be allocated as follows (Multicandidate PAC amounts in parentheses): 50% of each contribution, up to a maximum of $2,800 ($5,000), to be designated toward DJTFP’s 2020 general election account for general election debt retirement until such debt is retired. 50% of each contribution, up to a maximum of $2,800 ($5,000), to be designated toward DJTFP’s Recount Account,” the posting says.

Last updated:7:53 pm

4 weeks ago

4:57 pm

Provisional ballot count underway in Pa., Boockvar says

By: Cassie Miller

In a statement Friday afternoon, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said that the majority of the state’s mail-in and absentee ballots had been counted, adding that election officials have begun counting provisional ballots.

“Pennsylvania counties have been incredibly hard at work canvassing all the ballots to provide accurate results as quickly as possible following best practices and responsibilities pursuant to state and federal law,” Secretary Boockvar said. “We are very thankful to all the election officials working extremely long hours to make our democracy work and ensure that every qualified voter’s vote is counted safely and securely.”

Provisional ballots must be adjudicated within seven days of the election to determine if they can be counted, according to state law. That process is done by verifying that the “voter is registered in the precinct in which the ballot was cast, and that the voter did not cast a mail-in ballot prior to requesting a provisional ballot at the polling place.”

The Department of State said it will conduct a statewide risk-limiting audit to confirm the outcome of the election. The department noted that this was done after the June primary, as well.

Last updated:4:58 pm

4 weeks ago

4:54 pm

Philadelphia’s ‘Fashion District’ near vote count center hit with bomb threat, report

By: Kenneth Cooper

PHILADELPHIA — The Fashion District, a shopping mall near the Pennsylvania Convention Center where ballots for the 2020 presidential election are still being counted, was evacuated Friday afternoon after two bomb threats were called in.

Law enforcement investigated the site and no explosives were found after a K-9 sweep which was completed by 3 p.m., the Philadelphia Inquirer reported. 

The Inquirer offices connected to the mall also were evacuated and SEPTA halted all trains coming through Jefferson Station, WHYY-FM reported. 

While the investigation was underway, District Attorney Larry Krasner and Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw held a press conference inside the Convention Center, the Inquirer also reported. 

Krasner said that there appeared to be no connection between these bomb threats and the arrests of two armed men made last night outside the center during the press conference. 

Additionally, the bomb threats had no effect on the effort to count the ballots at the Convention Center.

You can continue to watch the livestream of the count here.

4 weeks ago

4:13 pm

Report: Federal judge in Philly shoots down GOP lawsuit to toss ‘cured’ ballots

By: John L. Micek

John Kruzel, of The Hill, reports:

In a separate action Friday, a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judge ordered that provisional ballots cast on Election Day ton fix errors in mail-in ballots be set aside for further review, LehighValley Live reported. The ruling by Judge Kevin Brobson was in response to a lawsuit filed by two Republican candidates, the online news site reported.

4 weeks ago

2:48 pm

Democrat Josh Shapiro wins second term as Pa. Attorney General

By: John L. Micek

Incumbent Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro has won a second, four-year term, the Associated Press reports.

Shapiro, a former Democratic state lawmaker and Montgomery County commissioner, defeated Republican Heather Heidelbaugh, a former member of Allegheny County Council, 50-46 percent, according to unofficial tallies compiled by the Pennsylvania Department of State.

4 weeks ago

2:25 pm

Philly Mayor Kenney: Trump needs to ‘put his big boy pants on’ and accept election results, report

By: John L. Micek

At a news conference Friday, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney had some … very Philadelphia advice … for President Donald Trump as Democratic nominee Joe Biden continued to build his lead in the Keystone State.

“I think what the president needs to do is, frankly, put his big boy pants on. He needs to acknowledge the fact that he lost and he needs to congratulate the winner just as Jimmy Carter did, just as George H.W. Bush did and, frankly, just as Al Gore did and stop this and let us move forward as a country,” Kenney said according to KYW-TV.

Kenney dismissed Trump’s claims of fraud in the city as “baseless,” and added that “what we have seen here in Philadelphia is democracy — pure and simple,” the station reported.

Around 40,000 ballots remained to be counted in Philadelphia as of Friday afternoon, KYW-TV reported.

Last updated:2:26 pm

4 weeks ago

1:38 pm

Democrat Wild defeats Republican Scheller in Lehigh Valley’s 7th Congressional District

By: John L. Micek

First-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Susan Wild has defeated Republican Lisa Scheller in the Lehigh Valley’s 7th Congressional District, according to a published report.

(Screen Capture)

The Associated Press called the race for Wild, a former Allentown city solicitor, shortly after 12 p.m. on Friday. Wild declared victory on Thursday, the Morning Call of Allentown reported. .

In a Facebook live statement, Wild said intended to remain “as independent-minded as ever,” and would work to “build a more inclusive, prosperous community,” the Morning Call reported.

“The past few years, our country has seemed at times to be impossibly divided,” she continued, according to the Call. “If ever there was a moment that we need to move past partisan politics and come together, this is that moment,” she said.  “… As your representative, I’ll do my part to get us through the other side of the public health crisis.”

Scheller, a former Lehigh County commissioner, has not yet conceded.

As of 9:30 p.m. Thursday, Wild had 182,455 votes to Scheller’s 172,790, the Call reported, citing unofficial tallies. The district includes Lehigh and Northampton counties and a section of southern Monroe County.

4 weeks ago

1:27 pm

Northampton GOP lawsuit dismissed

By: Cassie Miller

The Court of Common Pleas of Northampton County has dismissed a lawsuit from the county’s Republican Committee seeking an injunction against the County Board of Elections, aimed at prohibiting the board from disclosing the identifying information on ballots that were deemed invalid.

On Friday, President Judge Michael Koury concluded that the request be dismissed because the Committee’s appeal “lacked merit” because it failed to show that the denial of the injunction would cause “immediate and irreparable harm and that the injunction will not harm other parties.”

The Republican Committee argued that such a disclosure is prohibited by state statute, which reads:

The county board of elections shall meet no earlier than seven o’clock A.M. on election day to pre-canvass all ballots received prior to the meeting. A county board of elections shall provide at least forty-eight hours’ notice of a pre-canvass meeting by publicly posting a notice of a pre-canvass meeting on its publicly accessible Internet website. One authorized representative of each candidate in an election and one representative from each political party shall be permitted to remain in the room in which the absentee ballots and mail-in ballots are pre-canvassed. No person observing, attending or participating in a pre-canvass meeting may disclose the results of any portion of any pre-canvass meeting prior to the close of the polls.

The County’s Board of Elections and Democratic Party rebuked the claim, saying that the guidance issued by the Department of State in late October to issue a provisional ballot to voters whose absentee or mail-in ballots were rejected does not constitute the disclosure of “results” as stated in the statute.

 

 

 

 

 

4 weeks ago

12:53 pm

Cartwright holds on to NEPA’s 8th Congressional seat

By: Cassie Miller

On Friday, the Associated Press called the race for Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District seat in favor of Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright.

Cartwright defeated Republican challenger, and former Trump administration official, Jim Bognet by 3.4 percentage points, 51.7 to 48.3 percent, unofficial tallies showed.

4 weeks ago

12:13 pm

Republican Tim DeFoor wins race for Auditor General

By: Cassie Miller

Republican Tim DeFoor has won the statewide race for Auditor General, according to the Associated Press.

The AP called the race for DeFoor, of Dauphin County, on Friday, beating out Democratic nominee Nina Ahmad, of Philadelphia, by 4 percentage points,  49.90 percent to 45.90 percent, according to unofficial Department of State data. 

The Dauphin County controller will be the first elected row officer of color in Pennsylvania.

4 weeks ago

12:07 pm

Biden gains lead as Trump faithful question state’s GOP-run election

By: Special to the Capital-Star

By Jill Nolin

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has pulled slightly ahead of President Donald Trump in Georgia, giving him a slim edge over the incumbent president in a once reliably red state.

Gabriel Sterling, the state’s voting system implementation manager, reassured Georgians every legal vote will count in this election. Some supporters of President Donald Trump doubt it. Jill Nolin/Georgia Recorder

The overnight gain came as a Democratic stronghold south of Atlanta, Clayton County, submitted more election results. Biden has slowly chipped away at Trump’s election night lead as absentee ballots submitted by the Election Day cutoff are processed.

If the trend continues, Georgia will have backed a Democrat for the White House for the first time since 1992 when former President Bill Clinton won here. State election officials are already preparing for a possible recount.

Meanwhile, the slow, painstaking work of processing absentee ballots continues across the state. And pressure has been mounting on Georgia while the country waits to see whether the newly minted battleground state will help settle the close presidential election.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger – who is a Republican – long cautioned that the results could take days, but the delay has still fed suspicions about the process as the president and his supporters have watched a 118,000-vote lead in the early hours of Wednesday morning dwindle in Georgia.

About 60 tea party supporters of the president waved banners in front of State Farm Arena early Thursday afternoon, many of them chanting “stop the steal” as election officials counted Fulton County’s remaining ballots inside.

“The effort here is to make sure that everybody’s legal vote is counted properly and that the actual results are reflective of the voter’s intent,” Gabriel Sterling, the state’s voting system implementation manager, said during a Capitol press conference Thursday afternoon.

“There are other states that have more votes to count than we do, but it’s a wide margin so nobody cares,” Sterling said. “These close elections require us to be diligent and make sure we do everything right.”

Local election officials are handling a historic number of paper absentee ballots that require extra handling including a signature match review. About 1.3 million Georgians submitted an absentee ballot, as many people avoided potential exposure to the coronavirus at a polling place.

What is clear, Sterling said, are a few key election deadlines: Voters have until 5 p.m. Friday to correct errors, like a missing signature on an absentee ballot, or to resolve a provisional ballot cast on Tuesday. Overseas military ballots must arrive also by Friday. Local election officials must certify the results by Nov. 13.

The Trump campaign has leaned into the judicial system, but a GOP lawsuit in Chatham County targeting absentee ballots was dismissed Thursday morning. By Thursday night Chatham election officials reported enough absentee ballots counted to close the statewide vote gap to a rounding error.

More lawsuits could be coming in Georgia. Lawyers for the Georgia Republican Party, which filed the Chatham County lawsuit with the Trump campaign, have requested the security footage from the 24-hour security cameras that monitor drop boxes in the state’s six largest counties.

In televised remarks Thursday night, Trump said he “won by a lot” in Georgia. He said that was whittled down to “perhaps even being down a little bit.” He criticized a water pipe break that delayed vote counting at State Farm Arena, and he also said the “election apparatus in Georgia is run by Democrats” when the top election official is a Republican he endorsed just two years ago.

Shortly after that, Donald Trump Jr. appeared alongside U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, who just lost his senatorial bid, and lame-duck Democratic state Rep. Vernon Jones, who vowed a GOP fight to the finish.

Georgia U.S. Rep. Jody Hice called the state’s handling of the election “embarrassing.”

“Two days are gone and we still don’t know results…are you kidding? Worse yet, partisan ballots keep appearing. A fair vote & Trump wins, end of story! Stop the fraud!” Hice tweeted Thursday night.

Larry Mayl, a computer developer from Brookhaven, addressed the early-arriving protesters at Thursday’s demonstration with a rapid-fire series of suggestions that something fishy is going on with the vote-counting inside the arena where the Atlanta Hawks play.

Mayl said he took a day off from his job to draw attention to the lack of observers he trusts on hand not just in Georgia, but in Michigan and Pennsylvania as well.

Trump supporters showed up at vote counting venues in Arizona and Michigan in recent days to angrily demand election officials stop counting ballots, or in some cases to keep counting. Mayl grinned when asked if he expected the mild-mannered group to make their presence more known to people inside the secured arena.

“I mean, I’m not standing for a steal. Okay?” Mayl said.

Voters can check the status of their absentee ballot by logging into the state’s My Voter Page. Anyone who voted by provisional ballot is encouraged to contact their local election office.

Jill Nolin is a reporter for the Georgia Recorder, a sibling site of the Pennsylvania Capital Star, where this story first appeared. Georgia Recorder Editor John McCosh contributed to this report. 

4 weeks ago

11:12 am

Biden on course to flip formerly GOP Erie Co.

By: Hannah McDonald

ERIE, Pa. — A county that first appeared to be a large success for Republican candidates in contested races has thrown the commonwealth and country a curveball by going for former Vice President Joe Biden over incumbent President Donald Trump by a thin margin.

As mail-in and absentee ballots were tallied by election officials, unofficial and incomplete tallies showed Biden taking the lead over Trump by less than 1,000 votes in Erie County as of Thursday night.  

“Credit goes to the voters. But also goes to the [Erie County] Democratic Party Chair Jim Wertz, for whom this is his first presidential election cycle as chair,” Erie Reader Editor Ben Speggen wrote on Twitter on Thursday.  “More days, hours, minutes than I can count spent working on this after 2016’s election.” 

Erie County changing its position has large implications for Pennsylvania, which has been in the limelight as the state that could win the race for Biden. On Friday morning, Biden took the lead across the commonwealth by just under 1,000 votes overall as of 10 a.m., Nov. 6, unofficial and incomplete tallies showed.

The presidential race isn’t the only one that has seen a shift  in Erie County as the vote counting continues

On Wednesday, it looked like Erie had gone red in all contested races, but by Friday it was a different story for one local rust-belt county race in particular.

Incumbent Rep. Ryan Bizzarro, D-Erie, was able to win another term in the 3rd legislative district by beating out by Republican write-in Greg Hayes when mail-in tallies set him ahead by 8,081 total votes, according to unofficial tallies. 

It looks however that Erie was able to maintain incumbent Republicans in both the 16th U.S. Congressional District and the 49th state Senate District.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th District defeated Democratic challenger Kristy Gnibus.

Kelly’s win is credited to a massive Election Day turnout. Gnibus led by votes cast via mail-in and absentee ballots, but ultimately, Kelly was able to retain his position in the 16th Congressional District for a fifth term.

In the race for the 49th state Senate District, Democrat Julie Slomski saw defeat in the face of Election Day votes as well. Incumbent Republican state Sen. Dan Laughlin pulled through with a massive in-person push that allowed him to win another term by 22,623 Erie County votes, according to unofficial tallies.

Official election results for Erie County have thus far provided mail-in numbers for all 2020 election races.

In the days preceding the election, Erie County found itself (and its 202,689 registered voters) in the national spotlight as a potential battleground for the presidential election. Both party candidates took special interest in the rust belt city and visited the rural county personally during the final days of campaigning. 

Ultimately, the NWPA general election saw a voter turnout of 66.81 percent for a total of 135,422 ballots cast either via in-person Election Day votes, mail-in and absentee ballots. As of 10 a.m. Nov. 6, no provisional vote totals had been reported in Erie County.

Last updated:11:44 pm

4 weeks ago

10:15 am

Toomey calls Trump’s claims of election fraud ‘very disturbing’

By: Cassie Miller

Talking with CBS This Morning Friday, U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., called President Donald Trump’s comments about a stolen election Thursday “very disturbing.”

On Thursday night Trump made false claims that Democrats were trying to “steal” the election.

Breaking with Trump, Toomey said, “The president’s speech last night was very disturbing to me because he made very, very serious allegations without any evidence to support it.”

Toomey continued, “I voted for President Trump. I endorsed President Trump. I want the next president to be the person who legitimately wins the Electoral College and I will accept the results.”

However, on ABC News with George Stephanopoulos, Toomey called the state’s Supreme Court “rogue” and said that there was a lack of transparency in Philadelphia vote counting.

Toomey also repeated Trump’s trope that “all the legal votes need to be counted.”

Last updated:10:17 am

4 weeks ago

9:47 am

Trump campaign on Pa.

By: Cassie Miller

In a statement from President Donald Trump’s campaign said “this election isn’t over” after Joe Biden took a narrow lead in Pennsylvania.

Statement from Trump campaign (Capital-Star screen capture).

Last updated:9:51 am

4 weeks ago

8:55 am

Report: Biden takes the lead in Pennsylvania

By: John L. Micek

CNN Reports:

Biden has a 5,587-vote edge in the Keystone State, based on the current numbers, according to a source at the Department of State.

The race remains too close to call, but NBC News reports that Biden leads 49.4 to 49.3 percent.

Here’s a look at the statewide map:

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Last updated:10:58 am

4 weeks ago

12:42 am

REPORT: Philly police investigating an alleged plot to attack convention center

By: Cassie Miller

Philadelphia police are investigating an alleged plot to attack the Pennsylvania Convention Center Thursday night, ABC 6 Action News reported. 

The local news station reported that police received a tip about a family driving up from Virginia in a Hummer, headed to the convention center.

A weapon was recovered from the vehicle and a man taken into custody.

More than 58,000 ballots are still being counted in Philadelphia County, according to the Department of State, many at the convention center.

No injuries were reported.

Last updated:6:06 am

4 weeks ago

12:39 am

Trump campaign sought volunteers to encourage casting ballots after Election Day

By: Stephen Caruso

President Donald Trump’s campaign sent out an email Thursday seeking volunteers to call mail-in voters and have them return ballots after Election Day, according to the Daily Beast.

Pennsylvania’s 67 county election boards are counting ballots that arrive until 5 p.m. Friday Nov. 6, but the ballots must be sent by 8 p.m. Election Day to count, under an October state Supreme Court ruling.

Such mail-in ballots would count with or without a postmark, or a marking used to invalidate a stamp that also includes a date.

If the postal service post marked the ballots before delivery, as is policy for all election mail, the ballots would not count.

Conceivably, if a ballot was sent before this Friday at 5 p.m. but after 8 p.m. election night, not postmarked, and delivered to the county election office by the Friday deadline, the ballot would still count.

The prospect of unpostmarked ballots appearing in county election offices because of the state high court ruling has served as fodder for Pennsylvania legislative Republicans to question election results.

But in the email from Trump campaign, the top of the GOP ticket, appears to be encouraging such behavior.

The email also comes as Trump and his allies have made unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in Pennsylvania without evidence.

Whether or not the email is encouraging voters to break the law isn’t clear.

Last updated:1:26 am

4 weeks ago

8:47 pm

Pa. House leader Dermody trails GOP opponent amid weak downballot Dem showing

By: Stephen Caruso

Pennsylvania Democrats are holding their breath as a top leader appears likely to lose his reelection, capping a poor showing in legislative elections this year.

Rep. Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso).

House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny, who was first elected in 1990, appears headed to defeat, according to a source with knowledge of Allegheny County Democratic politics.

The source, who requested anonymity to speak about the race, pointed to the Democrats’ internal vote tracking data.

Dermody, who represents a district northeast of Pittsburgh, is currently down by about 1,200 votes, 52 percent to 48 percent, to Republican Carrie DelRosso, according unofficial and incomplete tallies.  But the source said Democrats’ internal data show that there may not be enough pending mail-in ballots to swing the election to Dermody.

Dermody has been the House Democrats’ floor leader since 2011, when his predecessor, former Rep. Todd Eachus, of Luzerne County, lost reelection in the 2010 Republican wave.

His district, which includes, among other places, Oakmont, Springdale, and Tarentum in Allegheny County as well as New Kensington in Westmoreland County, went for President Donald Trump in 2016.

Both House Republicans and Democrats have closely watched the race, as Republicans hoped to flip a long-sought seat and Democrats knew it would kick off a leadership race.

Dermody has escaped from a number of close races in the past elections. In 2014, for example, Dermody won reelection by about 1,000 votes. 

In a close race, provisional ballots also could be a factor, but the source cautioned that even provisionals and mail-ins together might not provide Dermody a clear path to victory.

Dennis Roddy, a spokesperson for the DelRosso campaign, told the Capital-Star that the campaign is “impressed with the vote totals and we are waiting for every valid ballot to be counted before coming to any conclusions.”

Many Democrats, meanwhile, continued to hold off on diving into the lackluster legislative results until Dermody’s fate is officially known.

Earlier this week, Rep. Leanne Krueger, D-Delaware, who chairs the House Democrats’  campaign arm, pushed for patience in the count.

“These races were always going to be close,” Krueger said at the time. “Mail-in ballots will be the margin of victory in many of them.

But even as Vice President Joe Biden’s margins increased on Thursday, many Democratic challengers in key districts are still losing.

One Republican strategist, Mark Harris, with Pittsburgh-based Republican consulting firm ColdSpark, said on social media that he was “not sure it’s possible to overstate how catastrophically bad (vs expectations) this year was for down ballot Dems.”

Some recriminations among Democrats over the results have already made their way onto social media.

The campaign manager for one suburban Pittsburgh challenger said on social media that Democrats were “marching and protesting ourselves into permanent legislative minorities across the country. All we’re going to have is protesting and the Republicans in power won’t give a s**t.”

The Allegheny County source instead blamed the seemingly Trump-driven surge in turnout for the results.

Either way, “it was a bloodbath,” they concluded.

If Dermody loses, candidates to lead the House Democratic caucus would Rep. Matt Bradford, of Montgomery County, the ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee,  and Minority Whip Jordan Harris, of Philadelphia.

Last updated:9:18 pm

4 weeks ago

8:12 pm

GOP U.S. Rep. Scott Perry wins re-election, as Dem DePasquale concedes

By: Stephen Caruso

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-10th District, has won reelection for his fifth term in Congress.

Pennsylvania Democratic Auditor General Eugene DePasquale (L) and Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, of the 10th Congressional District. (Photos from WikiMedia Commons Capital-Star photo collage by John L. Micek)

Perry beat Democrat Eugene DePasquale, Pennsylvania’s term-limited auditor general in the closely watched race for the central Pennsylvania-based congressional district, which includes Harrisburg, Carlisle and York with their accompanying suburbs, as well as rural areas.

Unofficial and incomplete tallies from the Pennsylvania Department of State show Perry holding a 26,000 vote lead over DePasquale with 53.4 percent of the vote to DePasquale’s 47.6 percent.

Perry claimed victory in a statement just after 7 p.m. DePasquale conceded about 20 minutes later.

In his statement, Perry thanked the voters of the district “for again putting their trust in me to be their voice in Congress.” 

“This has been a hard-fought campaign and I‘m humbled by the support our positive message received at the ballot box, Perry continued. “Serving the people of south-central Pennsylvania in Congress has been the greatest honor of my life, it is a charge I have never taken for granted, and my vow to the district is that I will continue to fight each and every day for us all in Washington.”

DePasquale, meanwhile, cut a conciliatory tone in his concession.

“Clearly our country is divided and it is more important than ever that we all do what we can to bridge that divide,” DePasquale said, “and in that respect I wish Congressman Perry the best. I promise that he will have my support, and I will do my part.”

“The challenges we face are serious and will require unity, not division, to overcome. I have no doubt that our community and our country will step up to meet them,” he added.

At most, 34,000 ballots remain to be counted in those counties, according to Department of State data. The data does not break down by congressional district.

Perry, an arch-conservative member of the House Freedom Caucus and Army veteran, was drawn into the district in 2018 by a state Supreme Court-mandated redistricting. He first ran for Congress in 2012.

4 weeks ago

7:52 pm

Trump federal lawsuit over election observers resolved, report

By: John L. Micek

Kadhim Shubber, a reporter for the Financial Times, live-tweeted a U.S. District Court hearing on a legal action brought by President Donald Trump’s campaign dealing with observers at the ballot-counting operation in Philadelphia.

U.S. District Judge Paul S. Diamond presided over the hearing, which ended with lawyers from each side agreeing on up to 60 observers each for both Democrats and Republicans.

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Diamond also admonished the attorneys:

He adds:

4 weeks ago

7:09 pm

Boockvar: Pa. has ‘a very strong process in place’ to secure integrity of the vote

By: Stephen Caruso

Pennsylvania is in the home stretch of its presidential race, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said at a Thursday evening press conference.

About 326,000 mail-in ballots remain to be counted in the state, which is already facing a wave of litigation from Republicans and President Donald Trump over the state’s voting process.

Trump in particular has hammered away, without evidence, at the security of voting by mail. Pennsylvania only expanded access to mail-in ballots to all voters in 2019, as part of a bipartisan compromise between the GOP-controlled General Assembly and Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.

Boockvar reinforced the methods that counties used to make sure that there isn’t mistakes or fraud in voting by mail Thursday.

“No matter how they voted, we have very strong processes in ple to make sure that voting integrity and security are constantly followed in every county in the state,” Boockvar said.

As is, Pennsylvania voters must apply to vote by mail, including providing a Social Security number or driver’s license number. That data is then checked against databases and voter records to make sure the voter is who they say they are, Boockvar said.

After the ballot is approved, sent out, and returned, counties do one last check as well.

“The strength and integrity of this vote is really unparalleled,” Boockvar said.

Boockvar said she was only aware of one example of fraud so far, from late October in Luzerne County.

In that case, a man was arrested for forging his dead mother’s signature on an absentee ballot application.

4 weeks ago

6:37 pm

Post-election timeline: everything you need to know

By: Kenny Cooper

Despite the uncertainty over the timeline of when Pennsylvanians will receive conclusive election results (and some Americans even choosing not to shower in anticipation of a winner being declared), there are still important deadlines that the state has to meet in order to officially complete an election cycle.

Here is everything you need to know about the upcoming weeks after an election.

What’s the timeline after the election?

The first of the major deadlines deals with the election result canvassing from county election officials and the subsequent certification of those results by a state executive. This date varies from state to state.

Canvassing is the process by which each county’s return board reviews unofficial election results.

In Pennsylvania, Nov. 23 is the final day “for the county boards of elections to file with the secretary of the commonwealth returns from the November election,” according to the Pennsylvania Department of State’s Election Calendar. If there is a recount, the last day is Nov. 25. 

The next important date is the ‘safe harbor’ deadline on Dec. 8. By this date, states must have settled election disputes to have their electors chosen for the Electoral College. If this deadline is missed, Congress could challenge a state’s electoral appointments, according to the National Task Force on Election Crises, a bipartisan group of national election experts. 

This all comes to a head on Dec. 14 at noon when Pennsylvania’s presidential electors meet in Harrisburg to cast their vote in the Electoral College. By this day, Federal law states that every state’s election certification process must be completed.

On Jan. 3, new members of the 117th Congress will be sworn into office.

While the Electoral College meets on Dec. 14, the winner of the presidential election is not officially formalized until Congress meets and counts the electoral votes on Jan. 6.

And of course, a new presidential term begins on Jan. 20.

What is Pennsylvania’s protocol for a recount?

As of Thursday evening, President Donald Trump has already requested a recount in the state of Wisconsin, where the two candidates are separated by less than 1 percent of the vote.

The race continues to be similarly close in Nevada and Georgia where the candidates are currently separated by 0.9 percent and 0.2 percent of the vote respectively, according to the New York Times. 

With more than 300,000 ballots still to be counted in Pennsylvania, the race could be close in the commonwealth, too. 

So what would a recount look like in Pennsylvania? 

Unlike Wisconsin, Pennsylvania election law requires recounts when the margin for a statewide office or ballot measure is less than or equal to 0.5 percent of the total vote. 

An automatic recount can also be triggered in the event of discrepancies in returns from any of the state’s election districts. 

The Capital-Star requested comment from the Department of State about what discrepancies might trigger a recount, but there was no response as of this reporting. 

Pennsylvania also allows for recounts to be requested by voters and candidates.

While candidates cannot file a direct recount request, they can appeal to the courts, which will then determine whether or not a recount is necessary. 

Such requesters must pay for all recount costs unless the recount reveals significant error or fraud, according to Ballotpedia, a nonpartisan online election encyclopedia.

There is no deadline in place for voter-requested recounts to be completed by.

Are there ongoing legal challenges in the state that may delay the vote count?

Yes! In fact, the two court rulings involving the Trump campaign caused two delays today.

 

The Trump campaign has several ongoing cases involving Pennsylvania that could very likely continue to cause slower returns in the coming days even as an unofficial winner becomes clear.

However, according to legal experts cited by the Washington Post, the Trump campaign’s goal to get the courts to stop the count is not realistic.

You can follow important cases here on the Pennsylvania Courts website.

Are there any protests or rallies planned?

Pennsylvanians wanting election officials to ‘Count Every Vote’ were out protesting across Pennsylvania in areas like Pittsburgh and Philadelphia to ensure that every vote is counted.

With the Trump campaign making false claims without evidence regarding widespread voter fraud, Trump supporters have also been out around the commonwealth demanding that the count be stopped.

There have been conflicting tones from pro-Trump protesters in several battleground states as some demand a stop to the count and others demand that election officials keep counting.

The protests are expected to continue throughout Pennsylvania as ballots are still being tallied in battleground states across the country.

Last updated:6:39 pm

4 weeks ago

6:36 pm

U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey: Expect a Pa. recount

By: John L. Micek

Andrew Seidman, of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

4 weeks ago

6:19 pm

Trump campaign files federal lawsuit seeking to halt Philly vote count

By: John L. Micek

President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to halt the Philadelphia Board of Elections’ count of votes in the city.

The filing comes as Democratic nominee Joe Biden closes the gap with Trump in the Keystone State, where 20 electoral votes are up for grabs.

The complaint includes a request for an emergency injunction and mirrors one filed in Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court, Bloomberg reported.

Commonwealth Court Judge Chistine Fizzano Cannon ruled “that all candidates, watchers, or candidate representatives be permitted to be present for the canvassing process,” provided they follow social distancing guidelines, the Capital-Star previously reported.

On Wednesday, a Philadelphia judge had ruled against the Trump campaign in the suit, which claimed its poll watchers were at least 15 and at most 100 plus feet away from the processing of ballots.

The city of Philadelphia filed an appeal soon after to the state Supreme Court. The high court was still reviewing the request for the appeal, according to a court spokesperson.

 

Last updated:6:25 pm

4 weeks ago

4:59 pm

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia … Dueling protests

By: Rjaa Ahmed

 

 

Last updated:5:01 pm

4 weeks ago

4:47 pm

Trump supporters, organized by out-of-state activist, rally in Harrisburg

By: Stephen Caruso

About 100 people showed up to a rally organized by a conservative Virginia activist on the state Capitol steps Thursday afternoon for President Donald Trump.

The rallygoers, many clad in Make America Great Again hats or waving Trump flags, chanted “stop the steal, four more years” and dueled with some liberal protesters who planned a demonstration for later that afternoon.

The Trump rally was organized by Scott Presler, formerly a paid organizer for the Virginia Republican Party, and a speaker at the Conservative Political Action Conference this year. He called for an audit of the election results.

“If Biden supporters are also out there fighting for truth and justice, then please join us,” Presler said. He claimed he was in Pennsylvania “of my own volition” and planned to continue holding capitol rallies.

Attendees, including Presler repeated false claims of voter fraud in Michigan, stemming from a typo in results from a small county, according to the New York Times. Presler could not cite any examples of voter fraud in Pennsylvania.

“Be assured, if I have to set up my own independent commission, I will be looking through votes to make sure there is no fraudulent, illegal activity,” Presler said.

A social media group linked to the protest, “Stop the Steal,” was banned by Facebook Thursday.

“The group was organized around the delegitimization of the election process, and we saw worrying calls for violence from some members of the group,” a Facebook spokesperson told the Washington Post.

Trump’s election night edge over Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden in Pennsylvania has steadily eroded as the state counts millions of legally cast mail-in ballots in the days after the election. Shortly before 5 p.m., about 340,375 mail-in ballots remained uncounted, according to the Department of State’s website.

The phenomenon of late counted mail-in ballots changing the course of an election is commonplace. In Arizona, counting mail-in ballots has helped Trump gain on Biden.

A federal judge also dismissed a federal civil rights lawsuit challenging state voting law before the election because of a lack of evidence of voter fraud as well.

Attendees who showed up to Harrisburg told the Capital-Star they saw the event on social media, or advertised in Breitbart News.

“The president has done so many amazing things for our country,” said Laurie, of Pennbrook borough in Dauphin County, who declined to give her last name. “He should be getting those votes. If he didn’t win, he’d step down, but he did get those votes.”

Another attendee, Susan Bowers, of Lancaster County, told the Capital-Star Presler invited her personally.

Democrats, she said, are “obviously corrupt,” and “probably had planned this for four years.”

All attendees agreed Biden could only win Pennsylvania because of voter fraud, a claim Trump has made at rallies in the state.

Also in attendance Thursday were Republican U.S. Reps. Scott Perry, R-10th District,, who represents Harrisburg, as well as his Freedom Caucus colleague U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.

Last updated:4:52 pm

4 weeks ago

3:40 pm

Battleground states count mail ballots, with Biden just shy of votes to clinch presidency

By: Laura Olson

WASHINGTON — Two days after Election Day, the nation waited for vote-counting to finish in several critical states, where the tallying of mail ballots has left Democrat Joe Biden just short of the votes needed to become the next president.

Thursday’s updated totals could push Biden beyond the 270 electoral votes needed to secure victory if the trends in the remaining battleground states continue. Biden’s staffers have expressed confidence that he will soon be declared the winner.

President Donald Trump has urged that vote-counting be halted as his legal team filed lawsuits in Pennsylvania, Georgia and Nevada. They also filed suit in Michigan, which news outlets called Wednesday for Biden. A judge dismissed the suit Thursday. Meanwhile, Pro-Trump protesters gathered in Georgia and in Arizona, where some were armed, including several with rifles, the Arizona Mirror reported.

Here are some questions—and answers—about where to watch and what’s left to be tallied:

How’s Pennsylvania doing with its huge number of mail ballots to count?

Counting has been slow but steady in Pennsylvania, where those mail ballots dramatically shrunk Trump’s lead in the state. As of noon Thursday, Trump led by Biden by 116,000 votes, or 1.8% of the overall vote.

Even as that margin dwindled, Trump’s campaign maintained that they believe Trump will again win Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes, arguing there are enough outstanding votes in Republican-leaning counties in addition to the 100,000 left in Philadelphia.

But mail ballots tallied so far have trended toward Biden, and Democrats have expressed confidence that the former vice president will end up with a vote margin of 100,000 or more in Pennsylvania. State data showed 581,000 mail ballots left as of noon Thursday, though that data lags behind county websites.

“It is looking like we’ll have the overwhelming majority counted by today,” Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar told CNN on Thursday.

The president’s legal team also won a court battle to have its observers closer to the vote-tallying tables at the Philadelphia Convention Center, the Pennsylvania Capital-Star reported. That ruling briefly halted counting as city officials scrambled to accommodate it, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Vote-counting also was paused in Allegheny County—home to Pittsburgh— due to legal issues surrounding some 29,000 ballots that were incorrectly mailed to voters. Those votes and another 6,000 with other issues aren’t expected to be counted until at least Friday.

Will Biden flip Georgia blue?

The mail-ballot counting in Georgia had nearly erased Trump’s lead there as of noon Thursday, when updated totals showed Trump ahead by just 14,000 votes.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger tweeted Thursday that there were 50,401 ballots left as of 12:45 p.m.

Earlier on Thursday, the uncounted tally included 17,000 ballots in Chatham County, home to the city of Savannah. The Trump campaign had filed a lawsuit over 53 absentee ballots in Chatham County, arguing those ballots were received after the deadline. That suit was dismissed Thursday morning.

Outside Atlanta’s State Farm Arena, where Fulton County ballots were being counted, Trump protesters chanted “Stop the steal,” the Georgia Recorder tweeted.

What about Arizona, which some outlets called for Biden?

Biden led by about 68,000 votes as of Thursday morning, a narrower margin after updated results from Maricopa County favored Trump.

Those results were released after a tense evening outside the Maricopa County Elections Department, where a crowd of Trump supporters gathered, the Arizona Mirror reported. Some of those protesters were armed, and harassed reporters covering the vote-counting.

The Associated Press and Fox News have called Arizona for Biden, though other news outlets have categorized it as too close to call.

Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said Thursday morning that roughly 450,000 votes remained to be tallied.

How wide is the margin in Nevada? 

New numbers released midday Thursday boosted Biden’s lead there to 12,000 votes, up from a lead of less than 9,000 votes Wednesday morning, the Nevada Current reported.

In the state’s largest county, Clark County, there are at least 63,262 ballots left to be counted, according to the Current.

Nevada law allows ballots received up to seven days after Election Day to be counted, so long as those ballots were postmarked on or before Election Day.

Trump’s campaign also is seeking legal recourse there, challenging what his legal team claimed were voting “irregularities,” such as ballots from non-residents or deceased residents.

4 weeks ago

3:19 pm

Pa. elections boss Boockvar says Pa. vote count could be substantially finished Thursday, report

By: John L. Micek

Despite a brief halt in Philadelphia and a delay in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania’s counties should finish counting the bulk of their remaining ballots on Thursday, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said Thursday.

Boockvar made her comments during an interview on CNN, PennLive reported. The Wolf administration official previously had said the count would be completed on Friday, PennLive reported. About 369,394 ballots still need to be counted, according to the Department of State’s website.

“It’s looking like we’ll have the overwhelming majority counted by [Thursday],” Boockvar told CNN.

President Donald Trump continued to lead former Vice President Joe Biden at mid-afternoon on Thursday, according to a tally by NBC News. The Biden campaign has said it expects to close the gap with Trump in the Keystone State.

With 20 electoral votes, Pennsylvania remains the linchpin in the electoral map. At mid-afternoon, Biden appeared to be in range of the 270 votes needed to secure a win in the Electoral College.

Last updated:4:41 pm

4 weeks ago

1:33 pm

What’s going on with Allegheny County?

By: Stephen Caruso

A tweet from a New York Times reporter went viral that noted that Allegheny County, in western Pennsylvania, was not counting 35,000 remaining mail-in ballots Thursday, and was waiting until Friday to process them.

While correct, the tweet is also out of context. Most of those ballots — 29,000 of them — were resent to voters late because a vendor error meant their ballots had the wrong races on them.

Chris Potter, of the local NPR affiliate, WESA-FM, explained the error here:

4 weeks ago

12:57 pm

Update: More on that Commonwealth Court campaign observers decision

By: Stephen Caruso

(*This post has been updated with new information)

A Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court judge ruled Thursday morning that the Trump campaign and all outside observers could observe the counting of ballots in Philadelphia.

Judge Chistine Fizzano Cannon ruled “that all candidates, watchers, or candidate representatives be permitted to be present for the canvassing process,” provided they follow social distancing guidelines.

On Wednesday, a Philadelphia judge had ruled against the Trump campaign in the suit, which claimed its poll watchers were at least 15 and at most 100 plus feet away from the processing of ballots.

The city of Philadelphia filed an appeal soon after to the state Supreme Court. The high court was still reviewing the request for the appeal, according to a court spokesperson.

All references to the Supreme Court overruling a lower court are false,” the spokesperson added.

Here’s the text of the order:

Last updated:12:59 pm

4 weeks ago

10:36 am

BREAKING: Pa. court rules GOP observers can watch ballot counts

By: John L. Micek

Here’s the full text of that order:

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Last updated:11:01 am

4 weeks ago

9:29 pm

Senate Republicans sharpen their attacks on Pa. elections chief Boockvar

By: John L. Micek

Republicans in the state Senate are turning up the heat on Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar on social media. GOP leaders already have called on the state’s election chief to resign. Boockvar has parried, calling on Senate GOP leaders to resign.

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, posted on Twitter on Wednesday night:

sdasda

4 weeks ago

9:23 pm

Wolf vows to ‘fight like hell’ to protect the vote in Pa.

By: John L. Micek

Facing a legal assault from President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, Gov. Tom Wolf went on offense on Wednesday night.

In a series of Tweets, the Democratic governor said Pennsylvania had made “important progress in counting millions of votes”; that “election officials should be free to do their jobs without intimidation or attacks,” and that attempts by Trump and Republicans to  “subvert the democratic process are disgraceful.”

“I’m going to fight like hell to protect your vote,” Wolf wrote. “We’ll fight every single attempt to disenfranchise voters, and we’ll continue to administer a free and fair election.”

Last updated:9:24 pm

4 weeks ago

6:41 pm

Trying to declare victory in Pa., protesters chase Trump team out of Philly

By: Rjaa Ahmed

PHILADELPHIA — Top Trump campaign officials were chased out of center city Philadelphia by protesters on Wednesday as they tried to declare victory in Pennsylvania with 1 million ballots yet to be counted.

“How many votes do you have to be ahead for a Republican to win here?” said Trump attorney and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, adding: “Do you think we’re stupid, do they think we’re fools?”

Earlier Wednesday  afternoon, Trump’s  campaign filed a lawsuit to stop the counting of ballots in Pennsylvania. The campaign also attempted to intervene in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court to prevent ballots sent by 8 p.m. on Election Day from being counted if they arrive at county offices by Friday at 5 p.m..

Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, and former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, said they’d be in Philadelphia until the conclusion of the count.

But it seems the residents of heavily Democratic Philadelphia weren’t happy with their presence in the City of Brotherly Love.

The press conference was originally scheduled for 3:30 p.m.. Protesters started gathering around the Pennsylvania Convention Center and City Hall at 3 p.m. 

Members of the Philadelphia chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, Seed the Vote, Refuse Fascism, the Socialists Alternative, and other local and national organizations congregated at John F. Kennedy Blvd. for the “Count Every Vote” protest. 

At City Hall, they held posters saying “Black Lives Matter,” “Stop Trump Stealing the Election,” and “Count Every Vote.” That’s just blocks away from the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where ballots are currently being counted. 

“Theocracy is never legitimate. White Supremacy is never legitimate,” said Emma Kaplan, 30, from the national Refuse Fascism chapter. “People have to get on the streets to push the Trump regime out.”

“If we don’t get it, shut it down,” protesters along Broad Streets chanted right outside City Hall. Law enforcement was also present, including several city police officers, helicopters and National Guard soldiers. 

“We are out here to build mass pressure because that’s what they respond to,” Greyson Van Arsdal, with Socialist Alternative, said. “This isn’t a Biden support rally. It’s a travesty that the best two candidates the system could come up with are Trump and Biden.”

Their presence seemed to shake the Trump team, who moved their conference to a hanger at the Philadelphia airport.

Similar protests to Philadelphia’s were also planned throughout the state. In Pittsburgh, people started congregating outside  the City-County Building around 4 p.m..

In Harrisburg, protesters began assembling on the state Capitol steps around 5 p.m.. About 75 were in attendance from numerous unions and local activists groups. They chanted and sang as the sun set, demanding that every vote be counted.

Kadida Kenner, director of We The People PA, a progressive activist group, said there were at least a dozen similar events planned around the state.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there are just more than one million ballots left to count in Pennsylvania, according to Department of State data. 

Rjaa Ahmed is a Hearken Election SOS Fellow helping the Capital-Star cover the 2020 presidential election. Follow her on Twitter @rjaaaaaaaaaaa.

4 weeks ago

6:15 pm

York County says it’s finished counting mail-in ballots, but results don’t appear on state site

By: Elizabeth Hardison

A state site that tracks the progress of Pennsylvania’s mail-in vote count indicates that more than a dozen counties have not tabulated any mail-in ballots as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, though one of them says its count is complete and the results have been sent to the Department of State. 

York County finished counting its 77,000 mail-in ballots on Tuesday night, at the same time it started reporting results from in-person voting, public information Mark Walters said. 

The county reported its complete vote count to the Department of State, Walters said. But the results from its mail-in ballots are not appearing on the state’s election results dashboard, which debuted on Tuesday night. 

“It’s a glitch and I don’t know why it hasn’t been fixed,” Walters told the Capital-Star. “But it’s not accurate.” 

Walters said the county first noticed the error on Wednesday morning.

An agency spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday evening.  

The state site indicates that Pennsylvania counties have tabulated nearly 60 percent of the mail-in ballots cast in the Nov. 3 election, with 1 million mail-in ballots to go. 

But it’s unclear if other counties are facing the same reporting lags as York, and if the actual number of counted mail-in ballots is higher than what the state is currently reporting.

The Department of State dashboard was designed to add context to the unofficial returns from the 2020 General Election. Department of State officials told reporters Friday they were finishing testing the site before it launched on election night. 

4 weeks ago

5:54 pm

Election experts: Pa. count delays are a product of ‘political decisions instead of practical decisions’

By: Kenny Cooper

As Pennsylvania gets the spotlight in anticipation of its results, experts from the National Task force on Election Crises cautioned the public to be patient.

“Experts, like those of us on the task force, have warned for months that initial results on election night would not accurately reflect vote totals, because more mail-in votes are being counted,” Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a collective of American civil rights groups, said.

The task force is made up of legal and political experts from both sides of the aisle who make recommendations in the case of various potential election crises.

“We have to give local election officials the space to do the actual counting, if our democracy is going to work. And Americans really should have faith that their right to vote is going to be preserved as we go through the process of counting every vote,” Gupta said.

Pennsylvania’s current voting result delay is a symptom of a lack of GOP responsiveness to new challenges, Gupta said.

“And it’s important to remember that Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania were all blocked by GOP legislators from counting ballots early despite the request by Republican and Democratic local election officials in those states wanting to do so. And that is why we find ourselves with these delays at this moment,” Gupta said.

“It really does seem like there was an effort to try to make the rules operate in some of these states that are just starting to count to make sure that the President would be ahead on election night,” Paul Smith, vice president for litigation and strategy at the Campaign Legal Center, an organization seeking stronger campaign finance laws, said. “And for whatever reason what the purpose of that is a little unclear to me, but that that does seem a big part of making political decisions instead of practical decisions.”

On Wednesday, the Trump campaign announced that it was filing two lawsuits in Pennsylvania in an attempt to halt the vote count.

While the task force was in agreement that litigation is expected in close races, they provided sharp commentary criticizing the basis of the lawsuits.

“[The Trump campaign’s] argument is that [Pennsylvania] essentially were starting the canvass process before they were allowed to do so on election day. The response is, ‘No, we were simply reviewing what ballots we received, which we were required to do so that they can be recorded in the computer as having voted. And in so doing, we come across these problems. And we assure you, there’s nothing in Pennsylvania law that prevents us from trying to facilitate everybody getting their vote counted,’” Smith said.

In response to the Trump campaign demanding the Pennsylvania vote count be stopped, Smith said, “there’s no legal theory,” for such an ask.

“I don’t see any court becoming party to that kind of an effort to shut down the counting,” Smith said.

Trump is a source of disinformation about the ballot counting process, Gupta said.

“And so while there are some who are going to cast doubt, and continue to cast doubt on the integrity of our electoral process, others stood up and said, ‘Not on my watch.’ And now it’s up to all of us to allow them to finish counting the ballots,” Tammy Patrick, senior advisor of elections at the Democracy Fund, a charity seeking to improve democracy, said.

Despite the potential for an earlier than expected declaration of a winner, Smith said the official process will take weeks.

“And so this is a process, which is just a completely normal part of what happens. The idea that we don’t have a formal certification of the results in any one state already is, of course, completely normal,” Smith said.

The task force also took the time to credit voters for showing up at the polls.

“We know that in every election, there can be a misstep or two  — the door to a polling location not being opened on time, a printing error, equipment that has malfunctioned. And this election was certainly no different,” Patrick said. “But it really was a testament I think not only to the dedication and fortitude of election officials in this moment, but most definitely to the American voter.”

Kenny Cooper is a Hearken Election SOS Fellow helping the Capital-Star cover the 2020 presidential election. 

4 weeks ago

5:38 pm

Democrats reel after losses, setbacks in Congress

By: Ariana Figueroa

WASHINGTON —Tuesday’s election was a disaster for congressional Democrats, who were expected to pick up nearly a dozen GOP seats in the House but instead lost races while also failing to flip Senate seats held by vulnerable Republicans.

 

Last updated:5:40 pm

4 weeks ago

5:15 pm

In the fight for the Legislature, Dems, GOP looks to mail-in ballots

By: Stephen Caruso

As Pennsylvania, and America, gears up for a long, litigious count of the presidential results in the Keystone State, state elected leaders are starting to get an early sense of how the 2020 election has changed the composition of the Legislature.

Despite some late optimism from Democrats, and a record $35.4 million in campaign fundraising, a Demopcratic flip of either chamber of the General Assembly does not appear to be in the cards.

At a press conference Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Greg Rothman, R-Cumberland, who chairs the House Republican Campaign Committee, said he was “very confident with the numbers right now and where they will go,” adding that “it’ll be a very good election for House Republicans.”

The Associated Press already has called two blue to red flips. One is in a western Pennsylvania Senate seat, the other in a northern Bucks County House seat. Both were won by Democrats in the last two years.

Meanwhile, two open, GOP held suburban Philadelphia seats were retained by Republicans. Numerous other races across the state appeared too close to call.

As of Wednesday at 3:45 p.m., there are just more than 1 million ballots left to count in Pennsylvania, according to Department of State data. That total could continue to increase, as mail-in ballots can arrive by mail until Friday at 5 p.m. at county election offices and still be tallied.

Many of those votes appear concentrated in suburban Philadelphia, which could influence the outcome of some of the elections. The House Democratic Campaign Committee was claiming one flip of an open seat in Montgomery County and parts of Philadelphia.

Rep. Leanne Krueger, of Delaware County, who chairs the House Democrats’ reelection effort,  told the Capital-Star that a number of seemingly vulnerable rural Democrats also appeared on their way to victory as of Wednesday, such as Rep. Frank Burns, D-Cambria, who’s district gave Trump more than 70 percent of its vote in 2016.

“These races were always going to be close,” Krueger said. “Mail-in ballots will be the margin of victory in many of them.

Last updated:5:41 pm

4 weeks ago

5:06 pm

Wolf condemns Trump for ‘disenfranchising voters’

By: Cassie Miller

Gov. Tom Wolf condemned the Trump campaign in a statement released by the governor’s office late Wednesday, accusing the president of “disenfranchising voters.”

The statement was released as Trump held a conference at Philadelphia airport where he declared himself the winner of Pennsylvania, despite no official call being made by state election officials and more than a million votes still needing to be counted in the battleground state.

The Trump campaigned filed suit in the state Wednesday to halt the ballot counting across Pennsylvania.

Wolf’s statement is in full below:

“Pennsylvania is going to count every vote and make sure that everyone has their voice heard. Pennsylvania is going to fight every single attempt to disenfranchise voters and continue to administer a free and fair election. Our election officials at the state and local level should be free to do their jobs without intimidation or attacks. These attempts to subvert the democratic process are disgraceful.

“In Philadelphia, officials are administering the election with the highest degree of transparency. There has been a livestream of the ballot-counting process available throughout the count, and all parties have canvass observers.

“Pennsylvania will fight every attempt to undermine the election. We will count every vote.”

4 weeks ago

4:11 pm

Trump campaign moves to stop Pa. ballot count, will intervene in U.S. Supreme Court case

By: John L. Micek

President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign said Wednesday that it has moved to intervene in a pending U.S. Supreme Court case that could prevent state officials from counting late-arriving ballots.

The action comes as county official across the state counted thousands of absentee and mail-in ballots, and as President Donald Trump continued to falsely accuse Democrats of trying to steal the election in a critical battleground state.

Current state law gives counties until Friday to count late-arriving ballots that were postmarked by 8 p.m. on Election Day. Republicans sued, arguing that only the Legislature has the power to regulate elections, but they were defeated in Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the challenge, but left open the possibility that it would take up the challenge after Election Day. The court now has a 6-3 conservative majority with the confirmation of new Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

In a rambling press release, Trump’s campaign attacked Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, whose office oversees elections statewide, and alleged without evidence. that Boockvar “has tried her hardest to bake in a backdoor to victory for Joe Biden with late, illegal ballots in collusion with the partisan state Supreme Court.”

Boockvar told county officials to segregate those late-arriving ballots, anticipating that they would be the subject of legal action. At a joint news conference Wednesday with Gov. Tom Wolf, state officials urged state residents to be patient as they reached the halfway point in counting more than 2.5 million mail-in ballots.

Trump spent most of the day on Wednesday attacking the ballot count process, falsely alleging on Twitter that officials in battleground states, including Pennsylvania, were “finding” ballots for the former Democratic vice president.

“As the president has rightly said, the Supreme Court must resolve this crucial contested legal question, so President Trump’s Campaign is moving to intervene in the existing Supreme Court litigation over the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s unlawful extension of the mail-in ballot receipt deadline,” Deputy Campaign Manager Justin Clark said in a statement. “The law is on President Trump’s side: as the Eighth Circuit just said, to change the ballot receipt deadline is in fact a change of the time, place, and manner of the election—and only a state legislature or the United States Congress can do that under the Constitution.”

The campaign also said it was suing to “stop Democrat election officials from hiding the ballot counting and processing from our Republican poll observers—observers whose only job is to make sure every valid ballot is counted, and counted once.”

The campaign said it was “suing to temporarily halt counting until there is meaningful transparency and Republicans can ensure all counting is done above board and by the law.”

The campaign also said it’s filed suit against Pennsylvania Democrats from “breaking” state election law by “mov[ing] the deadline for absentee and mail-in voters to provide missing proof of identification well past the deadline.

In a press briefing, Biden campaign adviser Bob Bauer said Trump will be “in for one of the most embarrassing defeats” if he pursues action in the U.S. Supreme Court to stop votes from being counted, Axios reported.

“We’re going to defend this vote, the vote by which Joe Biden has been elected to the presidency,” Bauer said, according to Axios.

4 weeks ago

3:27 pm

Pa. election coalition calls voting effort a ‘success story’ with caveats

By: Kenny Cooper

Pennsylvania voters faced a host of challenges at the polls on Election Day, including language access issues, voter participation barriers, armed constables, long lines, and poll delays, a non-partisan voter protection coalition said Wednesday.

Despite those obstacles, “we did have an election where people turned out and cast their ballot, despite in some cases significant obstacles to doing so,” Suzanne Almeida, interim executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania, said.

Almeida is part of the Pennsylvania Election Protection Coalition, a group of non-partisan political and legal advocacy organizations dedicated to ensuring a “smooth” election. 

The group was out in force across the state with more than 2000 volunteers at more than 575 polling locations, according to Salewa Ogunmefun, civic engagement and political manager at Center for Popular Democracy, a political advocacy organization.

“But these individuals and organizations that were led by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color and were placed in their communities, were really able to change the tenor of this incredibly fraught election, and make voting feel safer for folks of color across the state,” Almeida said.

According to the coalition, Pennsylvania voters faced several obstacles on Nov. 3, both old and new.

With mail-in ballots being a relatively new experience for Pennsylvania voters, voter confusion was on full display with questions about provisional ballots, as stated by Sara J. Rose, senior staff attorney at ACLU Pennsylvania.

“But I think that it was ultimately handled pretty well, and we were prepared to go to court in the event that any polling places were not allowing people to follow the correct procedures,” Rose said. “But in every case, the counties were able to inform the poll workers about the correct procedures if they weren’t being followed.”

Meanwhile, other issues, such as language barriers, persisted.

“And so these things came to a head at one particular poll in York County, where our volunteers interpreted for over 20 people and faced resistance every time, but were in fact able to make sure that every voter was able to vote, and that they were able to access that language interpretation,” Elizabeth Alex, chief of organizing and leadership at CASA, an Latino and immigrant advocacy organization, said. “But the process was harder than it needed to be.”

The presence of armed constables in several polling locations across the state also proved to be a hurdle, according to the coalition.

“In some places, we saw constables that were directing some voters to go to a different place that wasn’t the door for them to actually access to be able to vote. In some counties, we saw constables that were just like standing outside and yelling at voters as they came up,” Ogunmefun said. “In some counties, I think one county, we saw a constable that was asking people who they were going to vote for before they actually let them into the polling location.”

Some voters were also demanded to show ID at polling sites, a situation Ogunmefun described as generally “targeted” towards immigrant voters.

“And we heard from voters that that was one of the experiences that made a lot of people feel uncomfortable, and it was reoccurring, and in a lot of different places,” Ogunmefun said. “And there were a lot of situations we were able to have those resolved, but there were also some situations where that was not able to be resolved.”

Ultimately, many of these issues highlighted serious inequities in the voting system.

“On the one hand, those of us who do this work say those are very typical things that happen every election day,” Ray Murphy, state coordinator of Keystone Votes, said. “But also speaking to the points that [Alex] just made, they really paint the picture of the fact that there are two different election systems in our state, and lower income and communities of color often face significant barriers in any and every election cycle to cast ballots compared to their white counterparts.”

Additionally, there were some polling places where workers were not wearing masks, but those were handled, according to Rose.

However, Election Day was not without its pluses, Rose said.

“And on a positive note, we actually got way fewer complaints from voters who had registered to vote about not being in the poll books, and we got very few complaints,” Rose said.

With ballots still left to be counted, the results of this election have already been challenged in the courts by Republicans.

“We don’t think there’s any basis to these losses,” Rose said. “There’s no reason why people should not be allowed to correct mistakes and ensure that they actually have a vote and a say in this election.”

“CASA will be at the steps of the Capitol Building tomorrow, with hundreds of voters, including first time voters, including people who had language access issues,” Alex said. “And standing in vigil, because this is our Commonwealth, this is all of our struggle. And we all deserve to make sure that our vote was counted.” 

And while the coalition largely views this election as a success, they also believe that there is much room for improvement.

“To the extent that as I said earlier, we still see significant differences in access to the ballot, despite the fact that our country guarantees that all members of our democracy have an equal right to cast their vote, we still have some ways to go in making secure and modern updates to the Pennsylvania election code,” Murphy said.

Kenny Cooper is a Hearken Election SOS Fellow who is helping the Capital-Star cover the 2020 election. 

4 weeks ago

2:56 pm

Erie County Votes Red: Unofficial 2020 Election results from the pivotal NWPA city

By: Hannah McDonald

ERIE — As election results are slow to be officiated across the nation, Erie County voters appear to have gone red in all contested races.

For the presidential race, unofficial tallies showed Erie County voters giving early favor to President Donald J. Trump over former Vice President Joe Biden. Of the 99,831 votes counted for the presidential race thus far, Trump’s numbers outweighed Biden’s by 56,471 to 41,888.

Additionally, incumbent U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, R-16th District, appeared on course to win — defeating Democratic challenger Kristy Gnibus by 54,922 to 42,523 — unofficial tallies showed.

Should Kelly remain on the projected course, his win is credited to a massive Election Day turn out. Gnibus led by nearly 9,000 votes cast via mail-in and absentee ballots, but it appears that, ultimately, Kelly was able to retain his position in the 16th Congressional District when more than 52,000 Erie County voters cast ballots on Nov. 3 in support of the five-term Republican. 

In the race for the 49th state Senate District, Democrat Julie Slomski appeared to see similar results. 

After taking a lead of just over 5,000 votes cast by mail-in or absentee voters, incumbent Republican state Sen. Dan Laughlin pulled through with a massive Election Day push that allowed him to win another term by 26,379 Erie County votes.

What may ultimately be another win for Republicans is the race for state Rep. in the 3rd Legislative District. Early totals appear to have Republican write-in candidate Greg Hayes in the lead over incumbent Ryan Bizzaro, D-Erie, by a mere 903 votes cast on Election Day. 

In the 6th Legislative District, Rep. Brad Roae leads in unofficial tallies by a slightly larger margin, surpassing Democratic candidate Matt Ferrence by just under 3,000 votes. 

Mail-in and absentee ballot totals are still being tabulated in Erie County. 

Official election results for Erie County have thus far provided mail-in numbers for all 2020 election races aside from that for the 3rd, 4th, 6th and 17th Legislative Districts. 

This said, it is crucial to keep in mind that numbers may change in the coming days. 

In the days preceding the election, Erie County found itself (and its 202,689 registered voters) in the national spotlight as a potential battleground for the presidential election. Both party candidates took special interest in the rust belt city and visited the rural county personally during the final days of campaigning. 

Ultimately, the NWPA general election saw a voter turnout of just under 50 percent for a total of 100,437 ballots cast either via in-person Election Day votes, mail-in and absentee ballots. As of 12 a.m. Nov. 4, no provisional vote totals had been reported in Erie County.

4 weeks ago

2:31 pm

GOP Senate leader Corman reiterates call for Pa. elections chief Boockvar to resign

By: Elizabeth Hardison

The majority leader of Pennsylvania’s state Senate on Wednesday reiterated his calls for the state’s top election official to resign, saying instructions she issued to counties on the Sunday before the General Election undermined the integrity of the state’s electoral process. 

Sen. Jake Corman, R-Centre, said that voters had no reason to have doubt in the security of the state’s elections or the accuracy of the ongoing vote count from Tuesday’s race – both of which are run by county officials, not the department of state. 

But he said Republican lawmakers lost faith in Boockvar when she issued instructions to counties to help voters remedy problems with mail-in ballots – an “11th hour change” that Corman said was unconscionable.

“I don’t have any concerns about [the election or vote count], but her actions were unacceptable,” Corman said.

Corman said the guidance Boockvar issued Sunday, telling counties they could enlist political parties and campaigns to contact voters who had problems with mail-in ballots, likely went unnoticed by voters but was liable to confuse county officials before a historic and tense election. 

The guidelines are the subject of a suit in Commonwealth Court brought by two Republican candidates and five Pennsylvania voters, who contend they violate state election law.

Boockvar said Tuesday that she has no intent to resign, and that her agency believes it followed the law issuing the instructions to counties Sunday. 

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, said the allegations brought by his Republican colleagues were “another GOP attempt at chaos,” and that it would be “catastrophic and wrong” for the state’s top election official to resign in the midst of a lengthy vote count and certification process. 

Last updated:2:32 pm

4 weeks ago

2:14 pm

The fight for the presidency comes down to millions of uncounted mail ballots in battleground states

By: Laura Olson

4 weeks ago

12:11 pm

USPS performance data unreliable, Vice News says

By: Stephen Caruso

You might see a tweet floating around about unsent mail-in ballots, citing United States Postal Service data.

Don’t buy it.

According to Vice, which have covered the U.S. Postal Service extensively in the last few months, the data USPS shared in federal court has “little to no analytical value and should not be considered a reliable indicator of performance.”

“None of this is to argue every single ballot has been handled properly by the USPS,” wrote Vice’s Aaron Gordon. “I’m sure many of us have heard anecdotes of people who never received their ballots, and Postmaster General Lous DeJoy’s policies that tanked USPS reliability only added to the concern. But the question facing the USPS this election cycle was whether it would have any systematic, widespread screw-ups beyond the anecdotal.”

Last updated:12:12 pm

4 weeks ago

11:53 am

Wolf administration urges patience as counties chip away at mail-in ballots

By: Elizabeth Hardison

Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar implored Pennsylvanians on Wednesday to be patient waiting for final results from the 2020 election, as counties approached the half-way point in counting more than 2.5 million mail-in ballots. 

“This delay is a sign that the process is working,” Wolf said, acknowledging that Pennsylvanians are accustomed to seeing near-complete vote results on election night.

State data show that counties received a cumulative 2.5 million mail-in ballots by the time polls closed on Tuesday. They had counted roughly 1.2 million of those ballots by 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, or 47 percent of the total mail-in vote. 

Pennsylvania’s election code prohibits counties from opening those ballots before 7 a.m. on Election Day. 

The Republican-controlled Legislature did not heed the calls of election officials this year who said that law needed to change if they were going to provide the public with near-complete results on election night.

Boockvar said voters would see more results emerge throughout the day Wednesday as counties continue their work. 

Nearly one-third of counties had not reported any results to the state by Wednesday morning. Some counties are not publishing any mail-in ballot results until they have completed the entire count; others are posting results in batches as they make progress. 

Boockvar also noted that some election boards post results to their county websites before reporting them to the state.

Officials expect that counties will see their volume of mail-in ballots rise slightly this week, since a state Supreme Court order allows counties to accept ballots that arrive up in the mail until 5 p.m. on Nov. 5.

That order is the subject of a pending challenge before the U.S. Supreme Court, however, and may be overturned. Boockvar has instructed counties to count those ballots but to segregate them from others that arrived by 8 p.m. on Election Day. 

Boockvar also offered clarity Wednesday on a scenario that has been a concern among Republicans challenging the state Supreme Court, telling reporters that counties could accept ballots they receive in the mail by Friday even if the ballot lacked a postmark. 

Boockvar said it’s unlikely that a piece of mail  would lack a postmark, but that the state supreme court order allows technically those ballots to be counted “as long as there is no affirmative evidence it was postmarked after Nov. 3.”

4 weeks ago

10:12 am

Western Pa. dem Pat Iovino unseated by GOP candidate Devlin Robinson

By: Cassie Miller

Last updated:10:55 am

4 weeks ago

10:08 am

Be patient, trust democracy, coalition, former Pa. govs say

By: Cassie Miller

On Wednesday morning, VoteSafe and VoteSafe Pa., a  cross-partisan coalition of elections administrators and organizations, issued a statement to Pennsylvania voters, calling for patience and trust in democracy. 

The statement comes as the nation waits for election results in swing states such as Pennsylvania, where 24 percent of the votes are still uncounted. 

The Pennsylvania chapter of the coalition’s council includes four former Pennsylvania governors: Republicans Tom Ridge, Mark Schweiker, and Tom Corbett, and Democrat Ed Rendell.  

The statement reads: 

The record turnout we’ve witnessed in this historic election is a sign of a healthy democracy, amidst a pandemic, no less. With millions of ballots still uncounted, our election officials deserve the time they need to verify those ballots, and voters deserve for their voices to be heard. The fundamental democratic principle of one person, one vote applies whether you visited a polling place, mailed your ballot, or dropped it in a secure dropbox. In reality, we have never had a verified winner on Election Night — just an understanding between candidates to acknowledge the forecast. 

While record turnout is promising, the true test of our democracy will be our patience as votes are verified and tallied, our ability to accept the results despite the deep political divide, and our witness of a peaceful transfer of power as we have in every election for the last 224 years. Our gratitude goes to the election administrators across the country who made great strides to ensure that their voters could exercise their franchise safely and securely.

Last updated:10:54 am