“Now I understand why my mother told me that patience is a virtue,” said Nina Ahmad, a Democratic candidate for the office of the auditor general whose race across the state has not yet been. summoned. “It’s biting, but I’m trying to be patient. Around the world, electoral councils are scrambling to get through this ordeal under a pandemic, in massive civil unrest, under curfew. “
The fact that Philadelphia, a Democratic stronghold, still counts ballots by mail is particularly distressing for Democrats. They fear that President Donald Trump will take advantage of the delays in the fall to discredit the results – or declare victory after the rural areas where he is strongest have finished counting the ballots by mail, but before Philly has not finished.
“The volume of votes in November will be much higher and Trump will take advantage of any opportunity he has to question and undermine the validity of the elections in November,” said Amanda McIllmurray, a Philadelphia-based democratic strategist, “who will deprive disproportionately and intentionally Black, brown and white voters. “
A high-ranking Democrat elected to the state said, “This could, under the right circumstances, lead to a constitutional crisis. Can you imagine what Donald Trump would say when they still count ballots in “twisted, dirty and democratic” Philadelphia three days after the election? “
The delays left candidates across the state in limbo. In addition to the Auditor General’s primaries, 20 state races were not yet scheduled for Friday. The Associated Press only announced the winner of a Democratic primary in Congress in central Pennsylvania on Friday afternoon.
Democrat Rick Krajewski, who is little ahead of his challenge against state representative James Roebuck, told his social media supporters Friday that they may not know the result for several weeks and thanked them for their “patience because we are also impatiently awaiting the results.” As a sign of confusion, Bernie Sanders, who had endorsed Krajewski, congratulated him on Twitter on Wednesday for winning the primary.
“It’s a weird place to be,” said Krajewski of the multi-day delays. “I want us all to take the lessons of this process very seriously.”
The Philadelphia commissioners, who oversee the elections, said they did not know when they would have finished counting the ballots. Officials across the state have complained that they cannot start counting ballots by mail before polling day and lack the funding and staff to manage the new voting system.
Even in races that seem to be over, there is chaos and uncertainty. The Associated Press called the race for Nikil Saval, who challenged Democratic Senator Larry Farnese in a Philadelphia-based contest, but McIllmurray, his campaign manager, said Saval did not claim victory due to the large number of postal ballots remains to be counted. Farnese also did not concede.
In a Republican congressional primary in northeastern Pennsylvania, the Associated Press projected on Wednesday that Jim Bognet had won, and claimed victory afterwards. But his second opponent, Teddy Daniels, said on Facebook on Thursday, “COUNT THOUSANDS OF PROVISIONAL BULLETINS !! “
The administration of Governor Tom Wolf said it did not have the total number of counted ballots throughout the state. But Wanda Murren, spokesman for the State Department, said that 49 of the 67 counties in the state had finished counting their postal ballots.
The Allegheny County of Pittsburgh would also be over without Wolf having given him an extra week to receive ballots due to social unrest.
“No one could have predicted the volume of postal ballots used by Pennsylvania voters in this election – now over 1.4 million ballots across the state,” said Murren. “The department believes that each county has done an incredible job of dealing with the influx, and we reiterate that the most important thing is that each ballot is counted accurately.”
She added that election officials could learn lessons that could count postal ballots faster than others. “The County of Allegheny was able to do this because it uses the fastest and most efficient ballot processing and scanning equipment on the market. The ministry is encouraging other counties to use their recent federal sub-grants to acquire equipment of similar capacity by November. “
Nick Custodio, Deputy Commissioner of the City of Philadelphia, said that “in November we will have to further modernize our processes and seek to bring in additional equipment to speed up the processing of ballots”.
Philadelphia officials said on Friday that they were working to check the ballot papers against the ballots to make sure no one voted twice, possibly accidentally because they did not know their ballot had been received. They also said they had to move some of their operations out of town hall due to protests and looting in the city center.
And delays are not unusual in states where voting by mail is important.
“No one wants it to end sooner than we do. Everyone is working seven days a week until late at night for two months now, with a pandemic and social distancing at work and we had a tornado yesterday in Philly, “said the Republican city commissioner for Philadelphia, Al Schmidt. “But the elections are no longer a sprint. It’s a marathon. They could get the wrong results sooner or take longer to get the right numbers. “