Senate Dems win in court, Brewster to be seated in Harrisburg

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Harrisburg, Pa. (WHTM) — A fight over a western Pennsylvania state Senate seat is over and the Democrat is the winner. A federal judge upheld a state Supreme Court ruling that just because mail-in ballots are undated, doesn’t mean they have to go uncounted.

In this 14-page ruling, a federal judge refused to force Allegheny County to toss mail-in ballots without dates as Republican challenger Nicole Ziccarelli requested.

As a result, a victory for Jim Brewster and vindication for Senate Democrats who got into a shouting match over Republicans’ refusal to seat Brewster last week.

The court was clearly not comfortable forcing out otherwise legitimate ballots that were only missing dates.

“Particularly when you have two other dates on that ballot the postmark date and the date received in the election office,” explains Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa.

Ziccarelli said she disagrees with the ruling and is disappointed, but will no longer contest the result and wished Brewster well, adding “Based on the razor thin election results in [the 45th District], there is no question that we are divided right down the middle. I am asking all of us to come together and support Senator Brewster.”

The Senate GOP said it plans to swear-in Brewster at 11 a.m. on Wednesday. The Republicans added, “In this case, there is no dispute of facts. There were no allegations of fraud. Instead, we had voters in Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties who made the same mistake on their mail-in ballots being treated differently.”

The ruling suggested that instead of criticizing Allegheny for counting undated mail-ins, perhaps Westmoreland should be dinged for not counting them.

“Every vote counts and every vote should be counted and that’s been our proposition through this process,” Costa said.

Even with Brewster being sworn-in, Republicans still hold a commanding 29 seats to 21 majority in the state Senate.


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