Archive

Western Pennsylvania’s special election: Here’s what happens next | TribLIVE.com
Regional

Western Pennsylvania’s special election: Here’s what happens next

Tom Fontaine
PennsylvaniaElection26419jpg2399ajpg
Gene J. Puskar/AP
Conor Lamb, the Democratic candidate in the 18th Congressional District special election celebrates with his supporters at his election night party at SouthPointe early Wednesday, March 14, 2018.

Mt. Lebanon Democrat Conor Lamb declared victory in Western Pennsylvania's special election for the 18th Congressional District five hours after polls closed Tuesday night.

The outcome will remain unofficial for weeks.

Lamb unofficially leads Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone by 627 votes — a margin of 0.27 percentage points.

Here's what happens next:

• Elections officials in the congressional district's Allegheny, Westmoreland, Washington and Greene counties will formally begin reviewing results Friday.

Westmoreland County Elections Director Beth Lechman said her department will see if the number of voters who signed up at their respective polling places matches the number of votes cast on each precinct's voting machines. If there's a discrepancy, the department will investigate.

• Elections officials also will count provisional and military ballots starting Friday. Lechman said Wednesday that the county has about 20 provisional ballots and 23 military ballots to count. Nearly 72,000 people voted in Westmoreland on Tuesday — about a third of all votes cast in the congressional district.

Allegheny County spokeswoman Amie Downs said the county has to examine 128 provisional ballots and 99 military ballots. More than 100,000 people voted in Allegheny.

Each candidate can observe or appoint someone to be on hand for the inspection of provisional ballots, Downs said. Both are entitled to challenge provisional ballots they think are invalid.

• Once that's done, officials will pre-certify the results. That will start a five-day period in which parties can file court challenges related to the election, Washington County Elections Assistant Director Melanie Ostrander said. She said at least three voters in a particular precinct have to file a petition with the county's court within that period if they want to challenge the results or ask for a recount. Candidates can also turn to county courts to request recounts.

Downs said petitioners in the precincts are required to put up $50 in cash or a $100 bond to defray the cost of challenges.

• Pennsylvania Department of State spokeswoman Wanda Murren said there is no provision in state elections law that triggers an automatic recount for congressional races. There is for statewide races when the margin of victory is less than 0.5 percent. Even in those cases, Murren said, “The votes change almost not at all. Candidates might gain a few here, lose a few there. There's usually very little change in the (unofficial) total.”

• Final results can be certified by each county's Board of Elections when the five-day period passes without any challenges or all challenges are resolved. Downs said Allegheny County's election board is scheduled to meet April 2 to certify its results.

Tom Fontaine is a Tribune-Review assistant news editor.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.