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Politics & Government

State, Local Vote Totals Conflict In House Race


Whose numbers are correct? Those from the Pennsylvania Department of State? Or the numbers from the individual election divisions in Allegheny and Washington Counties?  The answers to those questions could be the key to learning who won the election for the 39th Pennsylvania house seat --Republican incumbent Representative Rick Saccone of Elizabeth or the man he upset in 2010, Democrat Dave Levdansky who had served 26 years in the House before that.

The 39th legislative district includes Clairton, Elizabeth Borough, Forward, Jefferson Hills, South Park Township, West Elizabeth and part of Elizabeth Township in Allegheny County plus Finleyville, New Eagle, Nottingham, Union and part of Carroll Township in Washington County.

According to the Department of State, Levdansky totaled 13,937 votes to 13,873 for Saccone--a 64 vote margin in favor of Levdansky.  But the elections divisions of Allegheny and Washington Counties reported 11,048 and 3,226 votes respectively for a total of 14,274 for Saccone, and 11,388 and 2,850 respectively for Levdansky for a total of 14,238.  Those numbers put Saccone ahead by 36 votes.
A Department of State spokesperson said Wednesday the counties directly upload their numbers to the state.  The numbers for district 39 on the Washington County elections site matches the state's figures.   But Allegheny County's numbers don't match what the state has from the county.  
The state is reporting 11,087 votes for Levdansky in Allegheny County but the County's website shows 11,388--a 301 vote difference.  State totals for Saccone in Allegheny County show 10,647 votes but the county shows 11,048--a 401 vote difference.  Those additional votes in Allegheny County could keep Saccone in office.  Department of State spokesperson Nicholas Winkler indicated a possibility for the discrepancy.  
"Counties begin to add totals from absentee ballots that came in from precincts and update their website."
However, 90.5 WESA could not confirm that because the Allegheny County Elections Division is closed today.
To complicate matters, the count of provisional ballots is to begin Thursday. It is still unclear how many provisional ballots were cast in the precincts in question.
According to Winkler, automatic recounts are triggered when there is a vote differential of point-5 percent but only in statewide races.   However, within five days of the election, a petition for a recount may be filed by "three qualified electors" (registered voters) of the election district."  The petition to open the ballot box or recanvass the voting machines must allege that "upon information which the electors consider reliable, they believe that fraud or error, although not manifest on the general return of votes, was committed in the computation or canvassing of votes cast; in the marking of the ballots; or otherwise in connection with the ballots," according to state election law.
The recount or recanvass would take place in all precincts in that district unless the candidate can claim that the fraud or mistake occurred only with specific precincts.