Lawsuits’ threat looms as Pennsylvania vote count grinds on

A Luzerne County worker canvases ballots that arrived after closing of voting until Friday at 5 p.m. and postmarked by Nov. 3rd as vote counting in the general election continues, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

HARRISBURG (AP) — The threat of more election-related lawsuits loomed as vote counting ground on Monday in Pennsylvania, nearly a week after the presidential election, as counties continued to sort through provisional ballots and late-arriving mail-in ballots.

Philadelphia alone was sorting through tens of thousands of ballots, including some that will be disqualified over imperfections or irregularities.

President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani vowed Sunday that litigation over Pennsylvania’s presidential election would continue this week, and Trump has refused to concede. The Associated Press on Saturday called the presidential contest for former Vice President Joe Biden, after it determined that the remaining ballots left to be counted in Pennsylvania would not allow Trump to catch up.

Courts have thus far rejected Republican demands in Pennsylvania and other battleground states to throw out ballots or stop vote counting. It was unclear whether any of the legal challenges would make a difference to an eventual outcome.

More than 2.6 million mail-in ballots were reported received by counties, and there has been no report by state or county election officials of fraud or any other problem with the accuracy of the count. Still, Republicans have maintained a belief that voter fraud occurred, saying all “legal” votes must be counted — a clear implication that Democrats want illegal votes counted, a claim for which there is no evidence.

Some of the pending litigation filed by Republicans challenges a state court order to count mail-in ballots that arrived in a three-day period after polls closed. Ballots cannot be counted if there is proof they were mailed after polls closed.

A Philadelphia election commissioner, Al Schmidt, said the city received approximately 1,000 mail-in ballots during that period. But, he said, many appeared to have been postmarked after the Nov. 3 election and will be deemed ineligible.

Pennsylvania election officials have not yet provided a statewide tally of the total of late-arriving ballots.

On Monday morning, Biden’s lead in the state stood at about 45,700 votes, fueled by big wins in Philadelphia, Allegheny County and Philadelphia’s four heavily populated suburban counties. That is larger than the 44,292-vote margin of Trump’s victory in Pennsylvania in 2016.

A slew of races remain uncalled including the contest for state treasurer, in which political newcomer Stacy Garrity of Athens in Bradford County could unseat the incumbent, Democrat Joe Torsella.

Garrity held an approximately 78,000-vote lead on Torsella, but the AP has not yet called the contest because it may fall within the state’s mandatory recount margin of 0.5% after the remaining ballots are counted. Several house races, including Democratic state Sen. Jim Brewster’s reelection contest in Allegheny County, also remain uncalled.

Republican Timothy DeFoor won the contest for the open state auditor general’s seat, flipping a statewide post held by a Democrat, and Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat, won another four-year term.

State Republicans easily maintained majority control of both the House and Senate for the two-year session that starts in January.

At least three state legislators lost, while each party flipped a seat left vacant by a retirement.

Lawmakers are due to return to session in Harrisburg on Tuesday, but House Democrats’ plans to hold their scheduled caucus elections could be delayed because it’s unclear whether Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Allegheny, won reelection.


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