Heaberg Claims Victory in Special Election but Questions Remain For Chester County Voter Services

Late last night I received a press release from Mike Heaberg (see below) that declares his victory in the Special Election.

Both political parties appear to be satisfied with the special election ballot hand counting on Monday by Chester County Department of Voter Services.  The recounting process uncovered 61 ballots that were not originally counted, adding 52 additional votes to Republican Mike Heaberg and 9 additional votes to Democratic Molly Duffy totals. The original vote count had favored Duffy by 40 votes, but with the additional votes, the final vote count was Duffy, 2,275 votes and Heaberg, 2,278; a difference of only 3 votes, in favor of Heaberg.

We now know that all 61 ballots belonged to registered Republican voters, leading to many questions.  It is understood that the actual ballots of the Republican, Democratic and Independent voters are printed differently.  The only thing that makes any sense is that there appears the problem may have been a printing or alignment issues on the Republican voter’s ballots.  I have also learned that the problem was not at only 12 of the 17 precincts as I previously wrote, but actually occurred at virtually every precinct.

Therefore, if we assume that there were mechanical issues with Republican ballots, printing or otherwise, I still find myself struggling with several issues and maybe someone can help me.  After the polls closed on election day, I assume that there is a certain procedure that takes place, i.e. tallying the votes, posting the results at the precincts, delivery of materials to Voter Services, etc. As part of this procedure, each precinct must have an individual responsible for ‘signing-off’ on the accuracy of the vote count, correct? So did these individuals sign-off on the results?  Did they report the inaccuracies to Voter Services when they delivered the materials that evening? I am curious how the actual procedure works — maybe Steve Shapiro as Judge of Elections for W-2 precinct could help us understand the procedure.

I understand that Voter Services was aware made aware of various issues, including malfunctioning machines, during the course of Election Day. If Voter Services knew there were problems and that the vote count was inaccurate, why would they bother to post the precinct vote count and the final totals on their website?  Would it not be more appropriate for them to make a statement concerning the problem and that they were working to correct the discrepancies? 

The issues surrounding the special election – the malfunctioning voting machines, the uncounted 61 votes, inaccurate reporting of ballot results, etc. are  unsettling and troubling; and I look to Voter Services for answers and accountability.  Not only about what exactly went wrong but also how they intend to correct these problems in advance of the general election in November. At a minimum, I suggest an internal examination of Voter Service procedures.  Should the County Commissioners investigate?

Heaberg Wins Special Election
Thanks People of Tredyffrin, Chester County Voter Services

Tredyffrin Supervisor Michael Heaberg today released the following statement regarding the results of the Special Election held on Tuesday, May 17th:

“In light of the hand count of all votes in this race by Chester County Voter Services in the presence of representatives from both campaigns, and with the results of that count showing my campaign to have won, I want to thank the voters of Tredyffrin for their support and all of the people who worked so hard in this campaign to make this victory a reality.”

“I look forward to representing the concerns of all Tredyffrin residents and addressing issues of importance to all, just as I have as an interim Supervisor. I ran on a platform of continuing fiscally responsible government that meets the needs of residents and protects our quality of life, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and continue a successful track-record for the people of Tredyffrin.”

“While the special election is now over, I look forward to continuing to meet with and talk to the people of Tredyffrin as I seek their support for a full term as Supervisor.”

“I also wish to join with the leaders of the Democratic Party of Tredyffrin who expressed their confidence in Voter Services’ ability to come to an accurate and reliable tabulation. I thank the professionals there who took the time to investigate reports of voting machine issues on election day and put in the effort to ensure a result in which all residents can have confidence.”

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7 Comments

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  1. I will try to put together a more detailed description later this evening, but the short of it is this: Any precinct should have noticed that the number of ballots cast according to the machines did not match the number of voters who voted. There is a section of the return sheet specifically set aside to report any such discrepancies.

    [Reply]

  2. Pattye,

    I’ve been Minority Inspector in M6 for several years, so am familiar with the process.

    The poll staff is required to follow many procedures designed to ensure integrity of the election. However, we do not have responsibility to sign off on the accuracy of the vote count. The only accuracy of counting that we have sign off is the reconciliation of the paper ballots. At the end of the night, we check to see that the number of ballots used (voted plus spoiled plus absentee) plus the number of unused ballots is equal to the number of ballots supplied at the beginning of the day plus absentees.

    We have no responisiblity to reconcile ballot counts against either the Numbered List of Voters or the machine counts. We do report issues when we find them, but are not mandated to do so.

    The results posted at the end of the night, which have been printed out by the iVotronic (electronic voting machine) and the M100 (the scanner into which ballots are deposited) are clearly designated preliminary.

    All results (printed tapes, data cards, etc.) and the actual ballots are taken to Voter Services at the end of the night. It is up to Voter Services to note and resolve any discrepancies.

    It has been my hypothesis, but only that, that the problems appear to be entirely (or mostly) on the Republican ballots had to do with the printing, as you noted in your post.

    [Reply]

    Pattye Benson Reply:

    Gene — this information is very helpful; thank you for your explanation. It is interesting that you as a Minority Inspector and Steve Shapiro as a Judge of Elections of 2 different polls, are both speculating re possible ballot printing issues. Surely, Voter Services can qualify this point by running ballots through a voting machine.

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  3. I would think that as part of Voter Services hand count, they reconciled ballots. I would also think if they weren’t going to either one or both sides would have requested it. Again, the public needs some answers but my assumption is that the candidates received them already as part of this process they went through.

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  4. Pattye,
    In my earlier post I left out provisional ballots. They are included on the ballot reconciliation. However, they are taken to VS in a designated envelope. They are not processed on the M100.

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  5. Pattye,

    I’m wondering if either Mike or Molly (or someone who was there Monday) could let us know what Voter Services thinks the problem is [ie machine(s) malfunction or ballot printing error]. They must have been told something.

    Also did Voter Services rescan all the ballots & come out with the same totals as the hand count.

    Although it doesn’t affect the rest of the township races, are those vote totals correct?

    Waiting for ansers

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  6. I understand that Marian Schneider was there — and she is associated with the grassroots effort “Chester County Coalition for Voting Integrity” == so maybe Pattye can contact her and see from a 3rd party perspective what she thinks is up. I think that’s outside the scope of a candidate’s arena.

    [Reply]

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