Republicans are heading to court on Thursday to ask that all the voting machines used in Tuesday’s election in District 18 due to some reported irregularities. It is expected that there will be a recount because of the closeness of the election.
Impounding the machines shows that Republicans are beginning to learn not to trust Democrats, who always seem to gain the votes they need to win in a recount. This time they don’t want to take any chances. The Democrat currently leads in the voting by a few hundred votes out of over 200,000 ballots cast.
Democrat Conor Lamb of Mt. Lebanon has already declared victory in the contest over Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone of Elizabeth Township. It’s been reported that between both sides over $16 million was spent on the campaign.
District 18 will not even exist after November. Lamb will have to decide which of the new districts to run in.
Republican officials are investigating several reports of voting irregularities including machines that changed the ballot the voters submitted. This has been a problem all across the country for the past few years and oddly enough,
it always seems to favor the Democrats. Republican voters were also sent to the wrong polling places and Republican attorneys were barred from observing the counting of the absentee ballots.
County spokeswoman Amie Downs said that on Election Day there had been discussions with Republican attorneys about their ability to oversee the vote-counting process. Under the state Election Code, she said, such observers must have a signed authorization from the chair of the county committee. “They didn’t produce that until the very end of the evening, when the ballots had already been scanned,” she said.
Mark Wolosik, who directs the county’s elections office, said that late Tuesday morning, “a call came in asking about people being able to observe the [counting] process on Election Night.”
Phone messages were exchanged over the following hours, and eventually, two Republican attorneys arrived at the central tabulation center, located in Pittsburgh. Wolosik said that an attorney identified himself as being “from the Saccone campaign” but the Election Code only allows political parties, not candidates, to deputize observers. A lawyer later produced an email purporting to show such authorization, but Wolosik said he couldn’t accept that because “there was no signature.” He swore in the observer after receiving a signed authorization.
Absentee ballots are run through a visual scanner and the ballots are preserved in case of a recount. Poll workers normally check the number of ballots against the number of people logged into the precinct and if the count matches, they normally consider the count valid.
Court challenges can change that method of counting and absentee ballots could be hand counted.
No other information is currently available until the court decides what steps to take.