A week ago the polls closed, the votes were counted and unofficially Democrat Molly Duffy had won the Special Election against Republican Mike Heaberg by 40 votes. Chester County Department of Voter Services listed unofficially Duffy receiving 2,266 votes and Heaberg with 2,226 votes.
Immediately following the closing of the polls, there was discussion of voting inaccuracies and talk of machine malfunctions. We learned first hand from Steve Shapiro, the Judge of Elections at the W-2 precinct, that there were an additional 5 ballots found in the voting machine that were not counted. There were reports of similar malfunctioning machines at four or five other precincts in the township. As a result, Chester County Voter Services conducted a daylong hand-count yesterday of all 17 voting precincts in Tredyffrin. Duffy and Heaberg attended the recounting by Voter Services, as did their attorneys and representatives from the Tredyffrin Township Democratic and Republican parties.
Late yesterday, after recounting all the ballots by hand, it was determined that 61 ballots were not originally counted, changing the results of the special election. Of the 61 ballots found not counted, nine additional votes went to Duffy and 52 additional votes went to Heaberg. The new unofficial vote total indicates Duffy receiving 2,275 and Heaberg receiving 2,278 . . . a difference of 3 votes, this time in favor of Heaberg. If this total is accurate, it may be the closest supervisor election in the township’s history.
It is my understanding that there was vote count issues found in 12 of the 17 precincts. How is this possible? That strikes me as a very high percentage of malfunctioning machines! However, at this point, it is unclear to me if the problems were attributable only to machine malfunctions or if there were other types of errors. Who could have predicted that a 40-vote difference in favor of one candidate could change with a recount to favor the other candidate by 3 votes? What is the probability of that happening?
Again, there is caution that the new special election vote totals are unofficial until certified. Do we believe that the hand-count is accurate and that this final vote count will stand? Or, will it take 4-5 weeks as previously explained, for the certification process? Assuming the new hand-count number is correct; will the Democrats challenge the election results?
For me, I’m still stuck on how 61 ballots went uncounted . . . and how many times in past elections has this same scenario played out but may have gone unchecked? It really makes one wonder.
Bottom line, until there is official confirmation on the special election results, I guess we just need to stay tuned.