‘Imagine what Donald Trump would say’: Key swing state sweats over vote-counting fiasco

Posted 32 days ago

From WWW.POLITICO.COM

‘Imagine what Donald Trump would say’: Key swing state sweats over vote-counting fiasco

It’s been days since the Pennsylvania primary and many races remain uncalled because all the mail ballots haven’t been counted. It’s raising alarms about November.

PHILADELPHIA — Three days have passed since Election Day, and races for auditor general, state senate and state representative are still up in the air in Pennsylvania.

Election officials haven’t finished counting the vote because they are grappling with an influx of more than 1.4 million mail ballots after the state implemented no-excuse absentee voting for the first time ever amid a pandemic, widespread protests and riots. In Philadelphia, the biggest city in the state, only about 14,000 of nearly 160,000 mail and absentee ballots had been tallied as of Friday afternoon.

The delays have given candidates and voters an aggravating — and, for some, terrifying — glimpse into what officials believe the entire country might suffer through during the presidential election in November: Due to a huge uptick in mail ballots, they say it could be unclear for days who has won this key battleground state with 20 electoral votes.

“Now I understand why my mother told me patience is a virtue,” said Nina Ahmad, a Democratic candidate for auditor general whose statewide race has not yet been called. “It’s nail-biting, but I’m trying to be patient. Boards of Elections everywhere are scrambling to go through this for the first time under a pandemic, under massive civil unrest, under curfew.”

The fact that Philadelphia, a Democratic stronghold, is still counting mail ballots is particularly nerve-wracking for Democrats. They fear that President Donald Trump could use delays there in the fall to discredit the results — or declare victory after rural areas where he is strongest have finished tallying mail ballots, but before Philly is done.

“The volume of votes in November will be much higher and Trump will use any opportunity he gets to question and undermine the validity of the election in November,” said Amanda McIllmurray, a Philadelphia-based Democratic strategist, “which will disproportionately and intentionally disenfranchise Black, brown and white working-class voters.”

Said one high-ranking Democratic elected official in the state: “It could, under the right circumstances lead to a constitutional crisis. Can you imagine what Donald Trump would say when they’re still counting ballots in ‘crooked, dirty, Democratic’ Philadelphia three days after the election?”

The delays have left candidates across the state in limbo. Along with the auditor general primaries, 20 state races were not yet called as of Friday. The Associated Press didn’t declare the winner of a congressional Democratic primary in central Pennsylvania until Friday afternoon.

Democrat Rick Krajewski, who is narrowly ahead in his challenge against state Rep. James Roebuck, told his supporters on social media Friday that they might not know the result for several weeks and thanked them for their “patience as we too eagerly await results.” In a sign of the confusion, Bernie Sanders, who had endorsed Krajewski, congratulated him on Twitter on Wednesday for winning the primary.

“It’s a weird spot to be in,” said Krajewski of the days-long delays. “I want us all to take the learning from this process very seriously.”

Philadelphia’s city commissioners, who oversee elections, said they do not kn... (Read more)