PHILADELPHIA — City officials in Philadelphia bowed to Republican pressure early Tuesday, reinstating a laborious, time-consuming process to catch double votes that will almost assuredly delay the city’s ballot count totals beyond election night.
Philadelphia officials emphasized on Tuesday that the step was brought on by GOP litigation.
The three-member elections board voted 2-1 at an emergency 7 a.m. meeting to reinstate a policy called poll book reconciliation, which flags mail ballots submitted by voters who also show up to vote in person. Reconciliation caught a few dozen double votes in 2020, although none were caught in the past three elections, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
“I want to make very clear that when there are conversations that occur later this evening about whether or not Philadelphia has counted all of their ballots that the reason some ballots will not be counted is that Republican attorneys targeted Philadelphia, and only Philadelphia, to force us to do a procedure that no other county does,” Republican commissioner Seth Bluestein said before voting for reconciliation.
Tuesday’s move is a surprising reversal of a decision city leaders made last week and comes one day after a judge said the city could move on without doing it.
Initially, the city said it would have nearly all of its votes counted by Wednesday morning. Poll book reconciliation will push the vote tally back significantly. Now, results will be slowly released over the course of the week, thrusting Pennsylvania right back into the middle of the national spotlight.
The state’s U.S. Senate race is not only the most expensive Senate race in the country but also in state history.
Democratic nominee and current Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Republican challenger Dr. Mehmet Oz are locked in a high-stakes contest that could determine which party takes control of the Senate.