On Air Now

DuBois Weather

Pa. county officials vote to certify midterm results after Republican-led delay


(WASHINGTON) — The Luzerne County Board of Elections in Pennsylvania on Wednesday voted to certify the county’s results from the 2022 midterm election — two days after an unusual delay caused by two Republicans and one Democrat on the board.

All three Democrats on the board voted to certify the result while the board’s two Republicans, Alyssa Fusaro and James Mangan, again voted against certifying.

Speaking at a special public meeting convened in order to hold a second certification vote, Daniel Schramm, the Democratic board member who initially abstained, said that there were no concrete numbers on how many people may have had difficulties voting in the midterm elections and did not try to come back.

“If you can’t make the effort, you must come back and extend your right that you want. It can’t be just — snap your fingers saying, ‘Well, I couldn’t do it, so therefore we have to do it all over.’ No, there isn’t [sic] do-overs,” Schramm said.

“It costs too much money, way too much money. So that is one of the justifications why I’ve changed my mind because I can find no reason why it should not be certified … there was no close calls on the race. People won by hundreds of votes, not two or three,” he said.

Before the vote at Wednesday’s meeting, area residents were able to give comment in person, by phone or via videoconference.

Many spoke out against certifying the results, citing issues with paper ballot shortages in Luzerne County on Election Night — a a judge had issued an order extending in-person voting hours at the polls — as well as other alleged incidents where voters faced difficulties.

“This last election was a repeat of previous elections where the people’s trust has been crushed,” Greg Griffin told the board during the comment period.

Others spoke in favor of certifying the results, arguing that while there may have been issues that should be investigated, it would be costlier and worse for voters to not certify or to try to do over the election.

“I would like to see our elections run as smoothly as possible without a hitch,” Claudia Glennan said. “I think people, though, are confusing their upset in how the elections are run with what is to take place during the certification process.”

While the proceedings remained mostly civil, one commenter was asked to leave when he would not share his municipality and claimed to be under the “jurisdiction of the press.” Another commenter claimed to be serving the board with affidavits.

According to ABC affiliate WNEP, the two Republican members of the board voted at a Monday meeting against certifying the results while two Democrats voted to certify and Schramm abstained, leading to the delay.

Local paper The Times Leader reported that the board members who voted not to certify cited paper ballot issues on Election Day, and many who attended the initial public meeting spoke against certifying the results.

On Election Day in Luzerne County, numerous polling places ran out of ballot paper. In-person voting hours were extended by the court.

“We went over everything meticulously as far as the reconciliations, that’s any anomalies were pretty much explained. And it was due to the confusion at the polls because of the paper shortage,” Democratic member Audrey Serniak said at Monday’s meeting.

Schramm initially told WNEP that “I wanted more information so I could make a sure decision on that it’s right to certify it.”

WNEP later reported that Schramm said Monday, after the vote to delay, that his concerns about the election had been addressed and he was ready to vote to certify.

According to The Times Leader, County Assistant Solicitor Paula Radick said at the Monday meeting that the state or candidates could take legal action against the county for not certifying the results.

The Pennsylvania Department of State told ABC News in a statement on Monday that it had contacted Luzerne County officials “to inquire about the board’s decision and their intended next steps.”

In Pennsylvania’s key statewide races, Republican candidate Mehmet Oz received more votes in Luzerne County in the Senate race, while Democratic candidate Josh Shapiro received more votes by a slimmer margin in Luzerne County in the gubernatorial race.

Shapiro went on to win statewide, defeating Republican Doug Mastriano; Oz lost to Democrat John Fetterman.

The delay in certifying the election results in Luzerne County comes at the same time that a county in Arizona, Cochise County, has also delayed certifying its results, prompting a lawsuit from the Arizona secretary of state.

In Cochise, two Republicans voted on Monday to delay certification over the objections over the board’s lone Democrat, who said in a statement that “the other board members accept[ed] unsubstantiated ideas and unverified claims as facts instead of relying on the Arizona State Elections Office.”

ABC News’ Tal Axelrod and Brittany Shepherd contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.