Pennsylvania Senate Race Heads to Recount; Thousands of Mail-in Ballots Still Left

David McCormick (L) and Dr. Mehmet Oz (R) (U.S. Dept. of Defense, Riccardo Savi/Getty Imag
U.S. Dept. of Defense, Riccardo Savi/Getty Images

The Pennsylvania secretary of state officially ordered a statewide recount in the Republican Senate primary race between David McCormick and Dr. Mehmet Oz on Wednesday.

State law requires a recount when results are within a 0.5 percent margin. This recount was triggered because even as thousands of Republican mail-in and provisional ballots potentially remain outstanding, the results will still come within that designated margin.

McCormick trailed Oz by 902 votes out of more than 1.3 million cast as of Wednesday, according to Secretary of State Leigh Chapman’s notice about the recount.

The Pennsylvania State Department said Wednesday that about 10,000 ballots were outstanding and that 6,000 of those were mail-in or absentee ballots and 4,000 were provisional ballots, according to Politico.

The department noted it did not have a breakdown by party of the ballots, meaning many of the 10,000 ballots left could be Democrat primary ballots as Democrats historically outnumber Republicans in mail-in voting.

The state accepted military and overseas ballots through Tuesday at 5:00 p.m., and said that of the 6,000 mail-in and absentee ballots left, an estimated 3,000 of those were military and overseas ballots.

A senior official from McCormick’s campaign provided an estimate last week of military ballots specifically, saying it believed more than 1,500 were outstanding and that it had expected about 1,000 of those to be Republican ballots.

“I don’t think the Fetterman-Conor Lamb campaigns inspired a lot of participation, but if you give us 1,000 of those, I think they’d probably pick the 82nd Airborne paratrooper over the Turkish Army surgeon,” the McCormick official said in reference to Oz’s prior stint doing medical work for the Turkish military.

Also hanging in the balance is a lawsuit filed by McCormick, who is seeking to have counties count any rejected or uncounted mail-in ballots that came in undated envelopes. The date on the envelope serves no substantial purpose as mailed ballots are marked upon arrival.

“These ballots were indisputably submitted on time—they were date-stamped upon receipt—and no fraud or irregularity has been alleged. The Boards’ only basis for disenfranchising these voters is a technical error that is immaterial under both state and federal law,” McCormick’s lawsuit reads.

The lawsuit comes after a Third Circuit Court determined Friday in a case out of Lehigh County that undated ballots from a prior election in that particular county be counted, and McCormick is asking all counties to apply this decision immediately so that undated mail-in ballots in the Senate primary be counted. Politico noted that the Senate primary has seen at least 860 undated Republican ballots.

McCormick would likely benefit from counting undated mail-in ballots as he has typically performed better with mail-in ballots than Oz. Oz, who appears to realize he would be disadvantaged if the counties chose to count such ballots, has argued that McCormick “is following the Democrats’ playbook” by suing to count them.

The recount will proceed unless the second-place candidate concedes, and McCormick indicated in a statement Tuesday night that he would not be doing that, stating, “We look forward to a swift resolution so our party can unite to defeat socialist John Fetterman in the fall.”

Additionally, the Associated Press declared Friday that the primary was too close to call and that it would not declare a winner until after the expected recount.

The recount will begin no later than June 1 and end by June 7.

Write to Ashley Oliver at Follow her on Twitter at @asholiver.


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