write in counting

This is a view of the computer screen Melissa Shaffer, clerical specialist at Lancaster County Office of Voter Registration, uses to count write-in votes for Warwick school board Friday, Nov. 5, 2021.

The Lancaster County Board of Elections is about a day ahead of schedule in counting the record-breaking number of write-in votes cast in last week’s election, but a mandatory recount of results in a statewide appellate court race could slow completion.

The county will finalize details for its recount efforts Friday following a call with the Department of State, said Christa Miller, the county’s chief elections clerk and registrar. A recount was automatically triggered after final results showed Democrat Lori Dumas leading Republican Drew Crompton by a 0.33% margin in the race for a seat on Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court. 

It’s unclear whether counties will be required to complete a hand recount of votes in the court race, or if elections staff and volunteers will be permitted to use the county’s high-speed scanners to re-tally votes, Miller said. The recount is set to begin on Wednesday.

“We’re happy that we’re a full day ahead and we’re not behind at all [on counting write-ins] going into a recount next week,” she said. 

Unofficial election results show Dumas, a Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas judge, ahead of Commonwealth Court Judge Crompton by 16,804 votes. Crompton was appointed to the seat in 2019 by Gov. Tom Wolf.

County elections staff will need to balance getting through the remaining write-in votes with the recount effort next week. Counties have until Nov. 22 to submit final election tallies to the state, and Nov. 23 to complete the recount. 

As of Thursday afternoon, the county had completed processing 22,600 write-in votes, finalizing vote tallies in all constable, mayor, city council and auditor races that did not have an official candidate on the ballot. Those results will be posted on the county elections results page on Friday morning, and staff will then begin sorting through write-ins for judges and inspectors of elections, Miller said.

The county finished all of the races where write-in votes could change the outcome on Wednesday. Several candidates waging write-in campaigns for school board seats looked on track to win in Solanco, Manheim Central and Warwick. But in most races across the county, write-in candidates were unsuccessful.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misreported the date the state's recount will start. It's set to begin on Wednesday.

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