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.

Lancaster County is slightly ahead of schedule in tallying the large number of write-in votes cast in the Nov. 2 election, county officials said Monday.

But the final work to close out the 2021 election is expected to continue into Thanksgiving week, as the elections office must begin recounting votes cast in the state’s Commonwealth Court race.

By the end of Monday, roughly 37,000 of the more than 52,000 write-in votes submitted by voters were expected to have been recorded, according to Christa Miller, chief clerk of the county Board of Elections.

The counting of write-in votes began on Nov. 5. It’s a slow process for several reasons. First, the county only has one computer programmed to count them. And these votes require extra care and handling, as elections staff must track incorrectly spelled candidate names and give the corresponding write-in candidates the opportunity to petition to have those votes included in their final tallies.

“I think everyone is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel on this,” Miller said on Monday. “We should be done with write-ins by Friday, but we’re unsure of how exactly it will work out with the recount.”

A recount was automatically triggered in the Commonwealth Court race after final results showed Democrat Lori Dumas leading Republican Drew Crompton by a margin of one-third of 1% statewide.

Miller said that starting Wednesday, eight elections office workers will start rescanning ballots for the recount while one other worker continues on the write-in votes.

Counties have until 12 p.m. on Nov. 23 to finish the recount, Miller said, and the race will be certified the next day.

Unofficial election results show Dumas, a Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas judge, ahead of Commonwealth Court Judge Crompton by 16,804 votes. Early returns on election night showed Crompton running well ahead of Dumas, but his lead turned to a deficit as large numbers of write-in votes in heavily populated counties were counted in the week after the election.

In Lancaster County, Crompton led Dumas by more than 20,000 votes.

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