PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A legal dispute between two Republican Congressional candidates and the Allegheny County Board of Elections has reached an agreement.
The case was about poll watchers and what to do with the almost 29,000 ballots with errors sent to voters in Allegheny County. The two candidates had been calling for allowing poll watchers at satellite election offices in Allegheny County.
The lawsuit that was filed in federal court by Sean Parnell and Luke Negron was against the county. An agreement was reached on Sunday.
“Twenty-nine-thousand ballots issued erroneously in Allegheny County, plus another 29,000 that went out to replace them — that’s a big deal,” attorney Thomas King III, who represented Parnell and Negron, said over Zoom.
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The lawsuit was questioning how the elections division was getting new ballots to voters and handling the wrong ones.
“People’s votes would have been in jeopardy if we would not have come to this agreement with the approval of a United States district judge in Pittsburgh,” King said.
This agreement says the Board of Elections will continue its sorting of the affected ballots by sorting them in locked ballot rooms.
The Board of Elections will not pre-canvass any of the ballots before the deadline. This is to make sure only one ballot is counted per voter.
According to the agreement, ballots will be separated by:
- Voters who return only a corrected ballot
- Voters who return only an initial ballot
- Voters who return both
The corrected ballots will be counted.
If an initial ballot is returned, only eligible positions a person could vote for would be counted.
If a voter returns both, only the corrected ballot will count.
Parnell and Negron released a joint statement.
“This is an important accomplishment for the people of Allegheny County,” said GOP congressional candidate for the 17th District of Pennsylvania, Sean Parnell. “We are grateful that every vote will be properly counted in this critical election. It’s gratifying to be part of a real solution to resolve this ballot fiasco,” he concluded.
GOP congressional candidate for the 18th District of Pennsylvania, Luke Negron, said, “We got absolutely everything we sought in our marathon negotiations with Allegheny County. The integrity of every ballot will now be ensured by guaranteeing the integrity of every ballot.”
However, in a statement, Allegheny County Solicitor Andrew Szefi says:
“These candidates sought to have poll watchers in offices and to challenge the ballots of over 28,000 innocent voters. They accomplished neither. Instead, they are now endorsing a process that was in place and transparently explained before they ever took us to court. We are pleased that this waste of time and resources is behind us and that we can get back to the important work of ensuring a safe and accurate election process for all voters in Allegheny County.”
According to King, the ballots impacted by this will be counted last after the voting deadline for mail-in ballots to be received, so it could be days after the election they are counted.