Official vote count begins in county

ANNE REINER/Sun-Gazette Jill Shuman, left, assistant director, and Forrest Lehman, director of Voter Services in Lycoming County, count hand-written absentee ballots at the Voter Services office Friday afternoon.

The official vote count for Lycoming County has begun as officials go through the painstaking process of recording each of the 51,771 votes cast on Election Day.

“We take our work very seriously,” said Forrest Lehman, director of the Lycoming County Voter Services. He and his staff will spend the next two or more weeks counting votes from Election Day, absentee submissions and military or overseas voters. They also will analyze the 30 to 40 provisional ballots to determine if they should be included in the official count.

According to Lehman, there are over 2,000 absentee ballots and just under 200 military ballots.

Lehman also quelled any accusations of voter fraud at the hand of polling staff or any other voting services staff across the state.

“We all worked very hard (Tuesday) to deliver a safe, smooth and fair election,” Lehman said. He added that he knows other directors across the state very well and is adamant that there is nothing nefarious with the voting system in Pennsylvania.

“I have yet to meet a president I’m willing to go to jail for,” he said.

As the voter services staff count and record each voter they will make sure that the total number of votes matches with the number of voter signatures received on Election Day.

According to Lehman, the unofficial election votes in the state were very close, and could give a candidate a reason to ask for a recount, but he considers it unlikely.

For the entire state 2,841,280 voted for Hillary Clinton and 2,905,958 voted for Donald Trump.

Either way, a recount would not be issued until each county’s numbers are sent to the department of state to be authorized.