The Pennsylvania special election in the 18th Congressional District is going down to the wire with Democrat Conor Lamb leading Republican Rick Saccone by .04% with 98 percent of the votes counted.
That has various analysts predicting a “photo finish” and even talk of a recount. However, what are the recount rules in Pennsylvania elections? It’s far more complicated to force a recount in Pennsylvania than it is in other states. That’s something Green Party candidate Jill Stein found out in the 2016 presidential election when she tried to contest the results in several states. Furthermore, there are differences between recount procedures for a congressional race versus a statewide one.
There is no automatic recount for races on the congressional level. A candidate would have to petition and get three individuals in each precinct to seek one, according to CNN. CNN is also reporting that there are almost 7,000 absentee ballots in the race still outstanding, many of them in populous Allegheny County, which expects to count them by midnight. The margin is so close it could come down to absentee ballots.
According to CNN’s David Wright, here’s how a congressional recount in the Lamb/Saccone race would work: “Sec. of State spokesperson Wanda Murren tells CNN that b/c this is a district race & not statewide, there is no mandatory recount here. Petitions are allowed, which require 3 voters in each precinct; have 5 days to file after the county completes its computation.”
Pennsylvania Sec. of State spokesperson Wanda Murren tells CNN that b/c this is a district race & not statewide, there is no mandatory recount here. Petitions are allowed, which require 3 voters in each precinct; have 5 days to file after the county completes its computation.
— David Wright (@DavidWright_CNN) March 14, 2018
“Recounts are not automatically triggered in congressional races in Pennsylvania,” CNN reported. According to Ballotpedia, in Pennsylvania, “a recount of ballots is required in an election district if three qualified electors in that district file a petition alleging that fraud or error occurred in the tabulation of votes or the marking of election ballots. Petitioners are not required to ‘specify in their petition the particular act of fraud or error which they believe to have been committed nor to offer evidence to substantiate the allegations of their petition.’ The petition must be accompanied by a $50 deposit, which will be retained by election officials if it is determined that fraud or error did not occur. This deposit is due to each county in which a recount is requested.”
State statutes on the automatic recount question reference candidates who appear on the ballot in “every election district,” which is clearly not the case in a congressional race.
The special election is being closely watched, even though the district’s boundaries are being redrawn soon, because President Donald Trump won it by 20 percent and it’s considered reliable Republican turf. Despite those factors and outside spending heavily favoring Saccone, Conor Lamb, the Democrat, brought it down …read more