HARRISBURG, Pa. (Erie News Now) – Wednesday, Pennsylvania Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman, issued notice that a recount will be ordered in the May 17 Republican primary for U.S. Senate.
As of today, all 67 counties have reported their unofficial returns, which show Dr. Mehmet Oz leading Dave McCormick by 902 votes.
Here are the latest unofficial results according to the Department of State:
- Mehmet C. Oz – 419,365 (31.21%)
- David H. McCormick – 418,463 (31.14%)
- Kathy J. Barnette – 331,398 (24.66%)
- Carla Herd Sands – 73,213 (5.45%)
- Jeffrey A. Bartos – 66,548 (4.95%)
- Sean Peter Gale – 20,220 (1.50%)
- George A. Bochetto – 14,406 (1.07%)
Under Pennsylvania’s Act 97 of 2004, a margin of 0.5-percent or lower triggers an automatic recount. This recount is expected to cost Pennsylvania taxpayers over $1 million.
Chapman said counties may begin their recount as early as this Friday but have to start the recount no later than June 1. Counties can choose to count by hand or electronically. County election offices must complete the recount by 12 p.m. on June 7 and submit recount results by 12 p.m. on June 8 to the Department of State.
According to the Department of State this afternoon, there are roughly 10,000 outstanding ballots- about 4,000 provisional and 6,000 mail-in and absentee.
“The grand total was a little below 10,000 between provisional ballots and absentee ballots that are still being adjudicated. And those would include military and overseas ballots, which counties could not canvass until today,” said Jonathan Marks, Deputy Secretary of Elections and Commissions for the Department of State.
The Department of State says of the 6,000 mail-in and absentee ballots, as many as 3,000 are overseas or military ballots. The department will not know the exact Republican and Democratic breakdown of the 10,000 ballots until counties tabulate and record all the votes.
The fate of the 4,000 provisional ballots will be determined by county election officials. If a voter’s eligibility to vote is unknown, or if election officials are unable to verify it, they will have you fill out a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot records your vote while the county board of elections determines whether it can be counted.
“The expectation is that today or within the next couple of days, the board will be taking votes on which of those ballots will count, which will partially count. And again, that’s all part of the process,” said Marks.
Aside from the outstanding mail-in and absentee ballots, there’s another issue: undated mail-in ballots.
Pennsylvania law requires voters to return mail ballots in a secrecy envelope, which goes inside a larger outer envelope which has to be filled out, dated, and signed by the voter. The issue of undated, or incorrectly dated ballots in Pennsylvania has been debated in the courts previously, and that will likely be the case again this year.
On Monday of this week, McCormick filed a lawsuit in Commonwealth Court arguing the undated ballots should be counted. His decision to file the suit came just a few days after the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the dating of ballots was immaterial, and that they should be counted. Today, Chapman said the department agrees.
“It’s our position that undated ballots and incorrectly, wrongly dated ballots should count. They’re immaterial,” said Chapman, who added that the department has provided counties with guidance to tabulate and count all the undated ballots. “There is current litigation that I cannot comment on, but our guidance with them segregating those ballots and tabulating them separately will ensure that regardless of any outcome of litigation, that we can actually have an accurate count,” said Chapman. “We have 65 out of the 67 counties that have reported how many undated ballots that they have and out of that, there are 860 Republican undated ballots and 4,190 Democratic ballots.”
According to the Department of State, this is the seventh time the automatic recount provision has been triggered since the passage of Act 97, with three recounts carried out and three recounts waived by the second-place finisher. In all three cases in which the recount was carried out, the initial results of the election were affirmed.
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