GOP seeks probe of reported irregularities in North Philly special election

 Conceding that the GOP candidate in a North Philadelphia district had virtually no chance of winning a seat in the Pennsylvania Legislature, House Majority Leader Dave Reed is calling for an investigation of reported voting irregularities during a special election. (AP file photo)

Conceding that the GOP candidate in a North Philadelphia district had virtually no chance of winning a seat in the Pennsylvania Legislature, House Majority Leader Dave Reed is calling for an investigation of reported voting irregularities during a special election. (AP file photo)

House Republicans want Pennsylvania’s attorney general to investigate allegations of “rampant” election code violations during Tuesday’s special election in North Philadelphia.

Republican lawmakers claim problems arose at a “good portion” of the polling places in the heavily Democratic district. The allegations include reports of poll workers handing voters stamps bearing the names of write-in candidates.

They also allege that “pink sheets” — the large sample ballots that hang inside and outside of polling places — were illegally marked.

“Any candidate has the right to a fair election. The citizens of Philadelphia deserve such,” said state Rep. John Taylor, R-Philadelphia.

“We’re under no pretense that we were going to win a special election in a district with 5 percent Republicans,” added House Majority Leader Dave Reed. “But it does beg the question: If this sort of corruption occurs in a special election with only 5 percent of Republicans registered in that district, what occurs in more competitive elections throughout other polling places throughout the city and throughout the commonwealth?”

A spokesman for city District Attorney Seth Williams said the office received a few dozen calls claiming election code violations, including allegations about pink sheets and stamps.

A judge Tuesday issued a court order prohibiting the illegal distribution of stamps.

The state attorney general’s office “has been made aware of the allegations and takes seriously the office’s responsibility to enforce election law,” said Joe Grace, communications director for Attorney General Josh Shapiro, in a statement late Wednesday.

Philadelphia City Commissioner Lisa Deeley said the allegations raise a broader concern about special elections, which typically don’t coincide with larger turnout elections.

“When more people participate in an election, the chances of these issues being so widespread, if they occurred, you know, it’s less likely,” said Deeley.

The special election was called because former state Rep. Leslie Acosta resigned after pleading guilty to money laundering.

The ballot featured Republican Lucinda Little and at least two write-in candidates, Democrat Emilio Vasquez and Green Party hopeful Cheri Honkala.

The write-in votes still must be tallied, but it’s clear that Little was not the winner. She took home less than 10 percent of the vote.

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