Lancaster and two other counties have complied with a court order to include improperly dated mail-in ballots in their certified election results for the May primary election, LNP | LancasterOnline has learned.
The deadline to do so was Wednesday. Officials at Lancaster and Fayette counties confirmed Thursday they submitted updated, certified numbers to the Pennsylvania Department of State, which oversees elections at the state level.
Lancaster County’s chief clerk of elections, Christa Miller, said the county sent certified results to state officials on Tuesday.
Just 84 mail-in ballots were returned to election officials in the May primary, Miller said Thursday. Two lacked a secrecy envelope and were not counted.
The 82 ballots added to the certified count did not affect the outcome of any races in Lancaster County, Miller said.
Marybeth Kuznik, director of Fayette County’s election bureau, said the board of elections there certified updated results at a Wednesday meeting and was in touch with state officials to complete the reporting process.
A spokesperson for Berks County released a statement Wednesday saying the county had sent in updated results.
“Moving forward, the Berks County Election Board is asking that the Legislature and governor make the necessary amendments to the law to make the intent clear for county election boards in future elections,” according to a written statement from spokesperson Stephanie Weaver.
Lancaster County will not be appealing the Commonwealth Court decision, said Democratic County Commissioner John Trescot.
“We are complying with the court order and we’re not intending to appeal the ruling,” Trescot said.
Republican County Commissioner Ray D’Agostino, chair of Lancaster County’s board of elections, did not respond to requests for comment.
Two of three Berks County commissioners disagreed with the court decision, according to Weaver’s statement, but “the board acknowledges that the decision does provide clarity on this specific matter.”
Berks County will not be appealing the decision, Weaver said Thursday.
The Fayette County commissioners' office did not return a message asking whether officials were still considering an appeal.
Applications for November midterms
The results from the three counties pave the way for the acting secretary of state to certify final primary results for statewide and some local races that were affected by the lawsuit.
At a Tuesday public meeting, Miller told county commissioners her office had already received about 30,000 mail-in ballot applications for the general election and that another 20,000 could arrive by the application deadline, Nov. 1.
In the 2020 presidential election, Lancaster County received about 102,000 mail-in ballot applications, according to a state report. Of those, about 77,000 ended up voting with a mail-in ballot.
Though the deadline for counties to receive mail-in ballots applications comes a week before Election Day, Nov. 8, election officials and political parties have urged Pennsylvanians in recent years to not leave them to the last minute.
Election officials have to process applications and send ballots to voters through the mail, which can take several days. That leaves little time for voters to receive, fill out and mail back their completed ballots, which are due at the county elections office at 8 p.m., the same time polls close.
Though the Lancaster County board of commissioners voted in the spring to remove a dropbox in the lobby of the county’s downtown Lancaster building, voters can still bypass the postal system by handing their ballot to county officials in the election office, located on the first floor of the county building at 150 N. Queen St. in Lancaster.