OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
An election official in a major swing state is warning voters not to expect to know the results of the midterm elections next month for days.
Acting Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Leigh Chapman told NBC’s “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd earlier this week that state law says election officials cannot begin counting early ballots until Election Day, Nov. 8. Meanwhile, votes cast on Election Day cannot be counted until after polling places close at 8 p.m. local time.
“The best we can do is just manage expectations and let voters know that election officials need to do their job,” Chapman said. “They need to ensure that they’re counting every vote, and delays in results does not mean anything bad is happening. It doesn’t mean ballots are showing up out of nowhere. It’s because of that restriction where we can’t start preprocessing or canvassing those votes until election morning.”
The Washington Examiner adds:
County election officials and Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) administration support earlier pre-canvassing, but changing the law would require legislative approval, according to Chapman. More than 1 million mail-in ballots have been requested, and approximately half have been returned so far.
It took Pennsylvania four days to count the ballots in the 2020 election, according to Todd. The delay and handling of the ballots during the COVID-19 pandemic led some voters to believe there was voter fraud that tipped the presidential election to President Joe Biden over then-incumbent President Donald Trump. However, claims of fraud sufficient to overturn the election in Pennsylvania and other places around the country have been roundly rejected by the courts and election officials.
One of the most closely-watched U.S. Senate races is taking place in Philadelphia, as Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Trump-backed GOP nominee Dr. Mehmet Oz face off in a race for retiring Republican Sen. Pat Toomey’s seat.
The contest has become especially noteworthy after Fetterman suffered a stroke earlier this year and has yet to fully recover. In fact, many have begun to question his cognitive abilities after an interview that aired earlier this month and a debate he had with Oz this week.
People on Capitol Hill, including Democrats, thought the performance of Fetterman was “painful to watch,” Axios reported.
Fetterman had difficulty speaking during the debate, and his campaign blamed the closed-captioning system provided for him as being “delayed” and “filled with errors.” Nexstar’s communications chief said both candidates were given a chance to test the system twice — but Fetterman chose to only do one rehearsal. Fetterman is still recovering from a stroke he suffered in May.
The host of the debate responded to the Fetterman campaign with fire, knocking down their excuses and stating the system worked as expected.
“It is unfortunate that Mr. Fetterman is now criticizing the closed captioning process employed by Nexstar during tonight’s debate,” Nexstar communications chief Gary Weitman said in a statement.
Indeed, Fetterman’s debate performance was so bad that many on both sides of the political aisle are criticizing him.
“Why the hell did Fetterman agree to this?” a Democrat lawmaker and supporter of Fetterman said to Axios. “This will obviously raise more questions than answers about John’s health.”
Leland Vittert, a NewsNation host, said “the biggest issue was John Fetterman’s health and his ability to comprehend speech, and to then speak coherently on the issues of the day.”
“Everyone is nervous. I’ve traveled everywhere. Fetterman is a deep concern. And this debate will only increase it,” a Pennsylvania Democrat official said.
My lord, this may be the saddest moment I've ever seen on a debate stage. pic.twitter.com/4mSKqirry9
— Andrew Surabian (@Surabees) October 26, 2022
“It’s sad to see John Fetterman struggling so much. He should take more time to allow himself to fully recover,” Toomey told CNN.
“I wished Fetterman was in a better place to clap back. Overall, I argue it wasn’t great for us but still a draw. Remember in these next few weeks that Oz’s campaign is spending tens of millions of dollars against a man with a major medical condition,” another Democrat said in support of Fetterman.