Pennsylvania certifies primary election in all but three counties

Chester County election workers sort, inspect, flatten and scan mail in ballots at the West Chester University gym.

Chester County election workers sort, inspect, flatten, and scan mail in ballots at the West Chester University gym. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Pennsylvania has certified the results of primary elections from 64 of 67 counties, leaving out three counties in a growing legal dispute over whether to count mail-in ballots on which the voter didn’t handwrite a date, state officials said Wednesday.

Certification of the remaining three counties — Berks, Fayette and Lancaster — will occur once litigation is resolved, Gov. Tom Wolf’s Department of State said in a statement.

The May 17 primary election included nominating contests for U.S. Senate, governor, Congress and most of the Legislature.

The department sued the three counties last week seeking a court order requiring them to provide primary election results that include mail-in ballots on whose envelope the voter did not handwrite a date.

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In a court filing, Fayette County said the state didn’t have the authority to require it to count those ballots. Plus, the state’s lawsuit missed a deadline to appeal a county election board decision and courts have not yet settled separate lawsuits over whether to count the ballots, it said.

The question of whether to count such mail-in ballots goes back to the presidential election of 2020.

Some Democratic-controlled counties have insisted on counting the ballots, saying the law’s requirement that a mail-in voter must hand write a date has no legitimate purpose in determining whether the ballot is legal and throwing it out violates a voters’ rights.

A 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel and a state Commonwealth Court judge have agreed. An appeal of the federal court decision is pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.

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