The Republican Party of Pennsylvania asked acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Robert Torres to investigate several "irregularities" during last Tuesday's special election in the 18th Congressional District. Democrat Conor Lamb won the race by just 627 votes over Republican Richard Saccone, a small enough margin that even a relatively small number of confused or disenfranchised voters could change the outcome of the race.
An attorney and authorized campaign representative was prevented from observing vote counting in Allegheny County:
First, an authorized campaign attorney, Russell Giancola, presented several forms of permissible credentials but was prevented from observing the computation of the vote count in Allegheny County Tuesday night. . . . While attorney Giancola was finally able to obtain this compliance with the inappropriate preconditions, the delay deprived the campaign of the right to have counsel present during the computation reporting process.
Allegheny and Washington Counties failed to provide the notice to military and overseas voter required by the Uniform Military and Overseas Voters Act. Voting machines were not calibrated properly:
Third, we received multiple complaints throughout the 18th Congressional District regarding calibration issues involving the voting machines. Numerous voters have called the Party and the Saccone campaign to complain that they selected Rick Saccone on the voting screen, only for Conor Lamb to appear on the confirmation screen. It is our understanding that some of these issues were not resolved during the Special Election.
Poll workers failed to follow provisional ballot procedures:
Fourth, the Party received numerous complaints about voters not appearing on the voter rolls, and being denied the ability to cast a provisional ballot at their polling place. In at least one instance, a voter was denied a provisional ballot at his precinct and directed to vote at his prior precinct in the neighboring county where he used to reside before moving several months ago. This violates voters rights under the Help America Vote Act and Commonwealth's implementing statutes and regulations. In addition, given the closeness of this election, denial of the right to vote for even a small number of eligible voters could cast the outcome of this election into doubt.
When the Democrat-controlled Pennsylvania Supreme Court instituted a new congressional district map last month, it kept the previous lines for Special Election. Both U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania declined to overturn that new map today (more about that on this blog tomorrow). When voters tried to search for their polling place, they were incorrectly shown polling places under the new map:
Finally, as your office was made aware on election day, the Department of State's website www.votespa.com errantly directed voters to polling places matched to their address under the recently imposed Pennsylvania Supreme Court map . . . rather than the congressional district lines in use for the Special Election. Since election day, we have heard from potential voters in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District who attempted to vote but were informed that they did not live in the district any longer.
This illustrates some of the ills of court-ordered district maps - they create confusion for voters, generate administrative hassles (and opportunities for errors) for election officials, and disrupt constituencies mid-term.
We hope that the Pennsylvania Department of State takes these allegations seriously and investigates these irregularities so that the integrity of future elections is not called into question.