Mail-in ballot battle: Who will be sworn-in as state Senator?

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — State lawmakers will be sworn-in at the Capitol on Tuesday, but there is one seat that Senate Republicans say they will keep open pending the results of a court challenge–even though the Democrat has been certified as the winner by the state.

The controversy centers on mail-in ballots that were not dated by voters.

State directions on how to fill out a mail-in ballot clearly say voters must sign and date them. But what if they didn’t?

That question’s at the center of the state Senate dispute in western Pennsylvania between incumbent Democrat Jim Brewster and Republican challenger Nicole Ziccarelli.

If the ballots without dates are allowed to count, Brewster wins by 69 votes. If the undated ballots are removed and voided, Ziccarelli wins by 24 votes–yes, it’s that’s close.

Matt Haverstick, Ziccarelli’s attorney, believes his client won the election.

Haverstick filed a 500-page protest asking the Senate to not swear-in Brewster on Tuesday, Jan. 5, despite the fact that the election results were certified by Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar.

“I think when lawfully-cast votes are considered and not the unlawfully cast votes, she’s the winner,” Haverstick said.

The Brewster side argues, and the state Supreme Court agrees, that failing to date a ballot is a minor infraction and shouldn’t disenfranchise the voter.

Inconsistency is another issue: Westmoreland County tossed undated ballots. Allegheny County counted them. The case is in federal court and it may take a judge to untangle the mess.

Either way, one side will be sworn in, and then likely, sworn at.


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