County vote moves Pennsylvania closer to certifying election

Ballots are loaded into a counting machine at an elections warehouse outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on November 8, 2022. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP) (Photo by ED JONES/AFP via Getty Images)

A suburban Philadelphia county elections board voted Tuesday to certify its November results, a development Pennsylvania officials had said was required before they can issue a statewide certification.

Bucks County government spokesman Jim O'Malley said its Board of Elections wrapped up certification, although litigation over recount requests has not ended.

"The challenges brought by the parties were withdrawn," O'Malley said in an email. "The recount petition litigation is ongoing, but the court in the case ruled the county could proceed with certifying."

Pennsylvania Department of State communications director Amy Gulli confirmed Tuesday the elections agency received Bucks' certified results and said in an email they are "working to finalize the secretary’s certification of the remaining offices."

Recount petitions in at least 27 of the state's 67 counties, covering 172 voting precincts, have delayed certification for some legislative districts as well as statewide election results for governor, lieutenant governor and U.S. Senate.

The Department of State has previously indicated it planned to comply with a request from the clerk of the U.S. House to send certification documents to Congress by mid-December.

Many of the recount requests focused on the high-profile November votes for governor and U.S. Senate, but others also involved legislative contests. At the end of last week, acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman had certified only 180 of the 203 state House races.

The lack of some state House final certifications has been an issue in a dispute over majority control in the chamber, as voters elected 102 Democrats and 101 Republicans last month.

Conservatives expressing concerns about the accuracy and reliability of the state's voting machines and procedures filed most of the petitions seeking hand recounts. Judges have dismissed a majority of them, but they did authorize at least 19 precinct recounts in six counties.

The recount push could recur and be a factor in the 2024 presidential election in what is one of the most closely politically divided U.S. states.

An AP survey found Pennsylvania recount challenges have altered vote tallies barely or not at all, and in one case prompted a veteran Republican county judge handling the litigation to urge state legislators to amend Pennsylvania’s recount law.