PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The race between two candidates in our area for the state Senate is now a tie. Incumbent Democrat Jim Brewster and Republican challenger Nicole Ziccarelli are seeing the race face legal hurdles.
The court battle focuses on some mail-in ballots and whether they should be counted or not. The issue with these ballots is some are missing information on the declaration envelope.
After the Allegheny County board of elections and Allegheny County court said 2,349 mail-in ballots could be counted, a commonwealth court reversed the decision. A big issue with these ballots is that they’re missing dates on the declaration envelope.
Attorney Matt Haverstick represented Ziccarelli’s appeal.
“We think the General Assembly thinks and meant that those requirements are not negotiable. They’re not waive-able,” he told KDKA.
Currently, both candidates are tied with just under 66,000 votes. Suzanne Almeida with the non-partisan government watchdog group Common Cause says the ballots should be counted.
“This isn’t about people who are voting on behalf of somebody else or have not signed their declaration. This is a date issue,” she said over Zoom.
In the court paperwork, the judge says he doesn’t want to disenfranchise voters, but the law is clear. He said enfranchisement is not absolving voters of lawfully submitting their ballots. The dissenting judge in the case quoted the state Supreme Court, saying the power to throw out votes must be exercised sparingly.
“Voting is a very human process as much, as we would like it to be perfect every time. We shouldn’t punish voters for these technical errors that don’t get to the heart of their decision making,” Almeida said.
The two judges who reversed the decision are Republican and the lone dissenter was a Democrat.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court could be the deciding factor in if these votes get counted or not.