Recounts in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania has ordered a statewide recount of the race for Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge – a recount that is similar in scope and significance as the Minnesota Franken/Coleman recount (though one hopes less acrimonious), as the result will decide who will be making durable rulings in law for the whole state.

It’s an interesting story, for at least a couple reasons. This recount is also the first one performed under the PA state law that automatically triggers a full recount when a contest’s margin of victory is by less than one-half of 1 percent of the total votes cast. It’s also interesting because of the variety of voting technology across the state, and hence the variety of re-counting methods and results. For example, in Lackawanna County, which was already doing local-race recounting a few days ago, County Commissioner Mike Washo was quoted:

We share the concerns of everyone who came here to talk about having every vote count. We’re going to ensure that every vote is counted. The good news is, with paper, we have the ballots.

Even so, there is still controversy there, because the re-count is using equipment that is similar to the counting equipment that had the apparent failures that caused Lackawanna County officials to do the recount in the first place. Despite the 2% hand recount, some are wishing for 100% hand recount in addition to the machine recount.

In other counties, no doubt the local variations in voting methods will drive different concerns and controversies. But the compare-and-contrast possibilities of this statewide recount should be very instructive. Stay tuned …


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