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HomeNewsPhiladelphia vote count facing delays following GOP challenge

Philadelphia vote count facing delays following GOP challenge

Officers in Philadelphia voted at an emergency assembly Tuesday morning to reinstate a safety measure that would dramatically sluggish vote counting in Pennsylvania’s most populous metropolis.

The Philadelphia elections board voted 2-1 at a metropolis commissioners assembly round 7 a.m. following a lawsuit filed by a conservative group difficult their determination final week to put off a time consuming course of to forestall potential double votes from being counted.

“I need to make it very clear that when there are conversations that happen later this night about whether or not or not Philadelphia has counted all of their ballots, that the explanations some ballots is not going to be counted is as a result of Republican attorneys focused Philadelphia, and solely Philadelphia, in making an attempt to drive us to do a process that no different county does,” Seth Bluestein, the only Republican commissioner, stated earlier than voting to reinstate the method.

The process, referred to as ballot ebook reconciliation, requires briefly halting vote counting to scan ballot books into the voting system to make sure those that’ve voted in individual didn’t additionally vote by mail.

Philadelphia is the one one of many 67 counties within the battleground state that can use the process throughout the depend. Bluestein stated Tuesday afternoon that there are “doubtlessly 20-30,000 mail ballots that will probably be processed on a rolling foundation after they’re reconciled in opposition to the ballot books.”

A voter checks in at a polling location in Philadelphia on Tuesday.Michelle Gustafson / Bloomberg by way of Getty Photographs

Whereas the method caught a handful of double votes throughout the 2020 election, it discovered none prior to now three citywide elections, based on court docket paperwork.

Commissioner Lisa Deeley testified in a listening to final week earlier than Widespread Pleas Court docket Decide Anne Marie Coyle that she did not suppose the method was obligatory as a result of ballot staff had been higher skilled and any pointless delays in counting votes might jeopardize a $5 million grant town had obtained from the state.

In a ruling Monday, Coyle, a Republican, blasted the fee for the eleventh hour transfer, charging it might encourage fraudulent voting and that the panel had “failed to think about the hurt to public notion of our electoral course of that would fairly consequence from Defendants’ late date public announcement of elimination of their beforehand publicly touted and utilized Coverage.”

She additionally criticized the argument that no double votes have been discovered within the final three metropolis elections, which she stated have been “poorly attended and minor.” Turnout is predicted to be a lot greater Tuesday, with the hotly-contested Senate race between Democrat John Fetterman and Republican Mehmet Oz.  

Regardless of her remarks, Coyle dominated within the board’s favor, discovering it was “not remotely possible” to order the method to be reinstated at “this late date” as a result of it could “trigger hurt and hardship to the administration of electoral processes which might be being employed” throughout town.

The choose cited the affidavit of the deputy commissioner who stated the reconciliation course of “requires on the very least, advance hiring, coaching and deployment of at the least seventy full-time staff who’re prepared to work regularly in a single day following the upcoming election.”

Bluestein stated the fee felt stress from the choose’s ruling to revive the process. “Whereas we technically received the court docket case within the widespread pleas court docket, the opinion that was written was written in a manner that we had no different alternative however to go ahead and reinstate reconciliation,” he stated.

Deeley, a Democrat, additionally voted in favor of reinstating the coverage. One other Democrat, Omar Sabir, voted in opposition to doing so.

Derek Lyons, the top of the Republican group that led the lawsuit, hailed the reversal in a press release Tuesday. “Conducting the audit will defend the integrity of our depend,” stated Lyons, a former Trump White Home official who’s now the CEO of Restoring Integrity and Belief in Elections.

He additionally stated his group had been making an attempt to work with Philadelphia election officers for weeks, and “if there are delays, solely the commissioners are accountable.”

Matthew Sanderson, an election lawyer in Washington, predicted the change would not have a big impact on the time it takes to tally the votes because the metropolis has used the method earlier than.

He stated the resumption is a web optimistic as a result of “you by no means need to sacrifice accuracy for velocity,” however the lawsuit has put election officers in “an untenable place.”

“When you actually care about election safety, this determination must be cheered,” Sanderson stated, however Republicans will use the extra delay within the depend as “trigger for suspicion” though they have been those who demanded it.

“It has nothing to do with an precise drawback,” Sanderson stated. “It’s about undermining religion within the election.”

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