November 8, 2022

Thanks to elaborate Republican f*ckery, counting Philadelphia’s votes will take much longer than expected this election - and that means we may not know who won the Oz-Fetterman Senate race for at least a week. Via the Philadelphia Inquirer:

City officials are preparing to vote Tuesday morning — as polling places open and the vote count begins for the midterm elections — to reinstate a process for catching double votes. It would be a sudden reversal of a decision they made less than a week ago and would come a day after a city judge said they could move forward without the process.

The procedure, known as poll book reconciliation, flags mail ballots submitted by voters who also voted in person. It’s time-consuming and labor-intensive — and will slow down the reporting of Philadelphia’s election results. If Pennsylvania’s high-stakes U.S. Senate race is as close as expected, a wait for results out of the state’s largest city is sure to shine a national spotlight on Philadelphia, similar to after the 2020 presidential election.

City elections officials had originally expected to have nearly all votes counted by Wednesday morning. If they reinstate poll book reconciliation as expected, it will mean that ballots still left to count after Tuesday night — numbering in the low tens of thousands — will instead be counted and reported in a slow trickle over the rest of the week.

Short version: Election commissioners voted last week to remove the process -- because it's time consuming and there haven't been any double votes in the past three elections.

Enter "Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections," a Republican group formed by Karl Rove, Bill Barr, and others. (As we know, the names always mean the opposite.) They sued to keep it in place.

A Republican judge ruled it was too late in the process to force the city to follow the reconciliation process -- although she issued a scathing opinion saying they were inviting fraud. (They're not.)

The reconciliation process pauses the vote count -- but new Republican rules attached to state funding requires counties to count mail ballots around the clock until finished. Philly accepted its $5.4 million share of that grant money, which means the city is now subject to that continuous vote count requirement.

“The Commissioners stand by their vote to discontinue pre-counting reconciliation,” the commissioners wrote. “But because the trial court’s opinion has cast unwarranted doubt on the integrity of Philadelphia’s election at the eleventh hour and risks feeding disinformation campaigns that seek to cultivate distrust in the democratic process, [commissioners] are currently considering whether to implement poll book reconciliation in this election cycle,” the commissioners wrote.

Philly had previously gone beyond what other counties did. In 2020, with the dramatic expansion of mail voting in Pennsylvania, officials made poll book reconciliation part of the process for counting mail ballots. That’s because some voters who request and return their mail ballots close to Election Day won’t be marked in the poll books as using mail ballots. Those voters, if they submit mail ballots and also show up in person, might slip through the cracks and be allowed to vote using both methods.

Since Philadelphia election commissioners are still receiving death threats over the 2020 election, you can see why they're reluctant to stir up more disinformation.

When we were waiting for the results in 2020, Philadelphians held a dance party outside the vote couting location to keep the election deniers from taking over the streets. And I wouldn't be surprised if they did the same thing again:

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