By Jack Phillips
A county in Pennsylvania that didn’t have enough paper ballots on Election Day failed to certify the results of the Nov. 8 midterms by the Nov. 28 deadline.
The Luzerne County Board of Elections split 2–2 to certify the results, while one member abstained from voting. It’s unclear what the next steps are.
Republican board members Alyssa Fusaro and Jim Mangan voted no, while Democrat members Denise Williams and Audrey Serniak voted for the certification, according to the Times Leader. Daniel Schramm, also a Democrat, was the lone board member who abstained.
Fusaro and Mangan said the ballot shortage on Nov. 8 that caused voters to be turned away was the reason they wouldn’t certify the results, according to local media reports. Fusaro said on Nov. 28 that voters were turned away from the polls, privacy safeguards weren’t in place, and machines jammed and ran out of paper.
“There were so many challenges, so many issues, so many problems, so many concerns, that I can’t with good conscience certify this election,” Fusaro said, stating that a new election should be held.
Schramm said at the hearing that he’s “not a rubber stamper” and wants more time to review a reconciliation report. He also wants to look into claims made by voters on Election Day, the Times Leader reported.
Mangan said the board “made every effort” to accept every ballot possible during the adjudication phase. The paper ballot issues, he said, triggered a “humiliating experience” for Luzerne County’s government that drew international headlines.
The Luzerne County District Attorney’s Office previously stated that it’s investigating the paper shortage along with other issues on Election Day.
Officials with the Pennsylvania Department of State didn’t provide an immediate public comment about the next steps. In May, three Pennsylvania counties refused to record mail-in votes from the state’s primary elections and delayed Pennsylvania’s certification of the results before a judge intervened and ordered that the votes be counted.
During the Nov. 28 hearing, an attendee called Serniak a liar after she said, “I can’t see any massive fraud in this,” according to local media. The man was escorted out of the building by deputies.
Deputies also asked another man to leave after he called Williams a communist and said board members shouldn’t vote until voters get a full explanation of why the paper shortage was caused.
Republican House candidate Jim Bognet issued a statement that the board shouldn’t certify, citing countywide issues on Election Day. Bognet lost to Democrat Matt Cartwright by about 7,000 votes, according to unofficial results.
“On election day, the polls were effectively closed for hours at many precincts across Luzerne County. Citizens were disenfranchised, and many voters still don’t know if their emergency ballots were properly counted. Voters deserve answers immediately,” Bognet said.
Pennsylvania had one of the most well-funded and hotly contested Senate races in the United States, pitting Democrat John Fetterman against Republican Mehmet Oz. Data shows Fetterman defeated Oz by about 5 percentage points statewide.