Technical glitches, misplaced ballots delay final county vote count; GOP leader calls for audit

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

Although more than week has passed since Election Day, Chester County Voter Services continues to count votes — as a technical issue caused an apparent miscount and a batch of mail in votes dropped off at the Downingtown Library had not been counted.

While Voter Services worked to correct the counts on Wednesday, the chair of the county’s Republican Party called for an audit of the election.

County Commissioners Josh Maxwell, Michelle Kichline and Marian Moskowitz issued the following statement Wednesday morning clarifying what happened and the schedule moving forward:

“On Thursday, November 4, Chester County Voter Services staff identified a discrepancy in the counting of mail-in and absentee ballots. In essence, more votes were received than counted.

“Voter Services determined a software problem caused the discrepancy and has been working with our voting system vendor, ES&S, to resolve the issue.

“The County brought this matter to the attention of both the Democratic and the Republican parties on Friday, November 5. Over the weekend of November 6 and 7, Voter Services staff re-scanned all mail-in and absentee ballot envelopes to ensure proper voter credit was applied.

“On Monday November 8, the County decided, with both the Democratic and Republican parties agreeing, that the mail-in and absentee ballots in question would be correctly re-scanned and uploaded. The original results will be removed from the system and the correct results will be updated.  This process continues to take place today, Wednesday, November 10 and is occurring in the presence of observers from both the Democratic and Republican Parties.

“Also, on Friday, November 5, Voter Services discovered additional mail-in ballots from a drop-box located at the Downingtown Library had not been counted. Again, both parties were alerted and provided information about the chain of custody (that all ballots had remained secured since collection). These ballots were counted on Monday, November 8.

“It is expected most results will be updated to the public reporting website on Wednesday, November 10.  This should include in-person, mail-in and absentee, provisional, and military/civilian overseas votes.

“Importantly, the County Voter Services Staff has been working alongside both the Democratic and Republican parties every step of the way in this election. That will continue to be the case until we reach a verified final tally.

“Elections are fundamental to our democracy. The process has been challenging, but working together with both parties, we will ensure that every Chester County legally-cast vote has been counted.”

While Voter Services worked to correct the counts on Wednesday, the chair of the county’s Republican Party called for an audit of the election Tuesday afternoon.

“We applaud the efforts of Voter Services, solicitors, and volunteers to correct these errors, but unfortunately, the damage has been done,” Chester County Republican Party Chair Gordon Eck wrote in a letter to the County Commissioners. “With a recurrence of significant irregularities, combined with the problems related to last year’s election and the failure of the Commissioners to reconcile the votes as required by law, a large segment of our community has lost trust in our election process.

“It is the supreme responsibility of our commissioners, as elected public servants, to assure the people of Chester County of the election process’s integrity through complete transparency and the faithful review of the election process. The Republican Committee of Chester County, on behalf of all the residents of Chester County, respectfully requests a full forensic audit of the 2021 General Election.”

Eck did not specify what issues there were in 2020 — he and much of the county party’s leadership has claimed falsely that there was massive election fraud in Pennsylvania, tipping the commonwealth to Joe Biden over Donald Trump in the Presidential election. Only a handful of cases of fraud have been discovered in the commonwealth, mostly by Trump supporters.

Some officials have exploited confusion because only in person and a small number of mail in ballots were counted on Election Day, 2020 — the state legislature declined to allow counties to count mail in votes prior to election day. The mail-in votes, which tended to be majority Democratic after Trump attacked mail in voting, did move the commonwealth into Biden’s column, with him winning by about 80,000 votes.

Multiple recounts and audits found no such fraud and Republicans not named Trump did fairly well in statewide and legislative elections.

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