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Chesco Ballot Problems in the Eye of the Beholder?

So, what happened on Election Day in Chester County? Ballot fiasco or “no big deal”?

Dr. Gordon Eck, chair of the Chester County Republicans, has requested a forensic audit of the November 2 election. He pointed to what he alleges were multiple ballot problems. His Democratic counterpart, Charlotte Valyo, dismissed those concerns and sees no need for further action.

The county Board of Elections is expected to discuss the issue on Tuesday, November 23, after Republican minority Commissioner Michelle Kichline sided with Eck and called for a recount. Residents who are concerned about election integrity have taken to the streets and held protests at the Chester County Courthouse to voice their concerns.

Republican Greg Simotas, who ran for a seat on the Downingtown School Board, was ahead in the vote count on election night. But by Wednesday morning his margin had dropped and eight days later the results showed he had lost at 45 percent to Democrat LeeAnn Wisdom, who ended up with 53 percent. Simotas is not claiming there was fraud. But he says the process of counting the ballots was not smooth and he was disturbed that misplaced ballots were found after the election, among other irregularities. He says an investigation is needed for people’s “peace of mind about the integrity of the election.”

“We need to get to the bottom of what happened,” Simotas said. The process was “inefficient and sloppy.”

A GOP press release outlined the details of alleged irregularities, which included mail-in ballots that were damaged by a machine that opens the mail and then taped together, jammed scanners, a bag of uncounted 265 ballots found days after the election, and problems with UBS computer sticks with votes stored on them.

Kichline sent a letter to her colleagues saying “these irregularities continue and must be fixed.”

“More importantly, the county must clearly identify and correct the failures of its election processes so that all our citizens may feel confident that their votes will be properly counted, recorded, and certified in future elections,” Kichline wrote. “Specifically, we must have answers about the chain of custody for every last vote cast in this election. The voters of Chester County deserve to know that their votes, whether sent by mail or cast in person, were properly handled and counted.”

Eck called the election process “a fiasco.”

“The issue is the process. How do I know my ballot wasn’t taped? What was the chain of custody? There needs to be an investigation. While this election had a 39 percent turnout, what will happen in 2022 when the Senate and governor’s race bring out 69 percent or more? How great is the magnitude of the problem? Election integrity is fundamental to our whole democracy,” Eck said.

But Chester County Democrats have another view.

“The continued insistence by the Republican chair that there were serious problems during this election is not just an effort to undermine confidence in election results, but also casts doubts on the performance of the Republican solicitor,” said Valyo. “Both the Republican and Democratic solicitors were included in all decisions made that affected the ballot counting processes. Both the Republican and Democratic solicitors agreed to the reconciliation process, the scanning process, and the determination that all ballots were secure at all times. Ballots have been counted and the results uploaded to the CCVS website and reported to the Department of State. As always there will be a bipartisan review of all election processes to improve procedures going forward.”

She also thanked everyone who voted and those who work at Voter Services.

“Chester County Voter Services has now uploaded election results that include all in-person, mail-in and absentee, provisional, and military/civilian overseas votes,” said Rebecca Brain, county spokesperson. “Throughout the ballot counting process, Voter Services staff has worked alongside both the Democratic and Republican parties, as well as experts from our voting system vendor, ES&S.  Having identified a discrepancy during the counting of mail-in and absentee ballots late last week, the county identified and isolated the cause of the issue, and recounted the impacted ballots in order to ensure every legally-cast vote was counted. These results remain unofficial until certified by the Board of Elections.”


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Pundits Look Ahead to 2022 Midterms

While some pundits have Democrats crying in their beer –or white wine—over Republican momentum in Philadelphia’s collar counties, others say the 2021 election results do not foretell future GOP wins. With or without former President Donald Trump’s long shadow.

Professor Robin Kolodny, chair of the political science department at Temple University, said it makes more sense to compare the November 2021 election to the 2013 municipal election, which is pre-Trump, than the more recent races.

Using a judicial race for comparison, voters in Bucks County gave the Republican candidate 54 percent of the vote in 2013 and the Democrat 45 percent. In 2021, the Democrat candidate received 48.9 percent to 55 percent for the Republican. And Delaware County in 2013 voted 53 percent Republican in a judicial race and 46.8 percent Democrat. In 2021, voters there skewed 55 percent Democrat to 44.9 percent Republican, she noted.

“Democrats improved their vote share in 2021 over 2013 statewide, in Delaware County (by a lot) and in Bucks County,” said Kolodny. “If 2022 elections were held tomorrow, Josh Shapiro (the Democratic Attorney General who is running for governor) wins Delaware County comfortably. What happens if he runs a good campaign?”

Nonsense, says Christopher Nicholas, a veteran GOP political consultant. He believes Republicans have the wind in their sails.

“In politics, ‘the trend is your friend.’  And the trend now is in favor of the GOP in the Philly suburbs,” said Nicholas. “That doesn’t mean Republicans will necessarily win those counties in 2022. But cutting the Democrat’s margins there will help since Pennsylvania Democrats are in a free fall in rural Pennsylvania.”

A major unknown: Where will President Joe Biden’s poll numbers stand next November?

A new Washington Posts/ABC News poll found Biden’s approval is now at 41 percent, with 53 percent saying they disapprove. In a subset of states like Pennsylvania with competitive U.S. Senate races, his approval is just 33 percent.

They also found Republicans winning the “generic ballot” question — “Would you rather see a Republican or Democrat in Congress?”– 51 percent to 41 percent — the highest margin for the GOP ever.

And a Franklin & Marshall College poll taken last month found just 32 percent of registered Pennsylvania voters said Biden was doing an excellent or good job, and  90 percent said his job performance has declined since he took office. The voters who think he’s doing worse cite the chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal, the border crisis, COVID-19, the economy, and inflation as reasons that they have changed their minds.

Just as troubling for Democrats, midterm elections often favor the party that is out of power. Republicans hope to take advantage of that factor as well.

“The red wave that swept local elections in Philadelphia’s suburbs should alarm Democrats as Republican enthusiasm continues to grow in once deep blue districts. As Joe Biden’s approval rate plummets, voters are ready to hold Democrats accountable in next year’s midterms for skyrocketing inflation and prices, rising crime, and special interest groups’ overreach into our schools,” said Republican National Committee spokesperson Allie Carroll.

Carroll pointed to Bucks County gains, where Republicans won five county row offices, including district attorney, where incumbent Matt Weintraub held on to his seat. Republicans also made massive gains in school board races in Bucks County, winning all four seats in the Centennial School District, every seat in the Pennridge School District, and three of five races in Central Bucks School District.

In Chester County, Republican Margie Miller won in the Downingtown Area School District. In Delaware County, the Marple Newtown and Penn Delco School Districts and Chichester Region 1 saw Republican sweeps in school board races.

A major factor in 2021 was parents, who became aware of parts of the curriculum being taught to their children during virtual learning amid the pandemic and came out to vote in large numbers. Parents were also concerned about schools closing along with other issues such as vaccine and mask mandates.

One hugely successful force, the new political action committee Back to School PA, was a big factor, with 60 percent of the candidates it backed winning in races around the state. The PAC supported candidates, including 36 percent who were Democrats, who believe in keeping kids in school rather than in online learning.

“We flipped six school boards,” said Clarice Schillinger, executive director. Of the 208 candidates they backed, 124 won. They also backed candidates in races where they knew there was little chance of winning, she said.

“What we did was raise awareness,” Schillinger pointed out.

The PAC put up $700,000, including $500,000 from Bucks County venture capitalist Paul Martino, to back slates of candidates at $10,000 each. Back to School PA will be funding candidates in the next school board election cycle in two years, Schillinger said. It is also discussing the possibility of taking the organization nationwide.

The PAC estimates it spent about $2,000 per candidate on those they supported, which is very similar to what the Pennsylvania State Education Association (teachers’ union) spent on its candidates. The union has been “putting in money for decades upon decades,” she noted. And candidates the labor union backs are “more likely to negotiate and vote their way during contract season,” she said. “I’m thrilled with the outcome of the election and I think in two years we’re going to be even sharper and even smarter.”

Thomas McGarrigle, Delaware County Republican Committee chair said, “In the suburbs, Republicans need to focus on messaging related to our core values and principles: Protecting individual liberties and first amendment rights, openness and transparency in government, and parental input into their kids’ education. By and large, people want to be left alone, and voters came out to voice their opposition to the Democrats’ government overreach on the national, state, and local levels.

“A lot of what we saw this election was a rejection of the elitist, ‘big government knowns best’ attitude held by too many of the Democrats that are in power now,” said McGarrigle. “The Republican Party needs to rally behind candidates for Congress, governor, and the state legislature who can articulate these concerns.”

And while Kolodny says she believes reports of a GOP surge are overblown, she also acknowledges one way “Republicans really have an advantage over the Democrats” is turnout.

“There’s an old saying in voting:  ‘A rainy day is a Republican day.’ In municipal elections especially, turnout is dismal. Republicans always turn out more than Democrats in off-year elections.”


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Montco Ballot Mess Delays Some Election Results

Last month, Montgomery County election officials learned that approximately 16,000 mail-in ballots for Tuesday’s election were printed incorrectly. On Nov. 3, the Montgomery County Board of Elections released an update on the 2021 General Election with final results not expected until the weekend.

The update shows all ballots cast in-person have been recorded, but mail-in and provisional ballots are still being processed. While final results are expected to be delayed, the county will continue to update its online results dashboard on a regular basis in the following days as eligible ballots are counted and validated, officials said.

The county is sequestering the returned ballots related to the previously announced misprint of mail-in ballots by its printer, officials said. Affected ballots are subject to a separate verification process that was approved by the Board of Elections and shared with both political parties as well as the Pennsylvania Department of State.

The county has also encountered a higher than usual number of ballots that could be read by ballot scanners. Officials are following an established process in a bipartisan fashion to recreate the impacted ballots to make sure every eligible vote is validated and counted. The process occurs during every election as there are various reasons ballots are sometimes unable to be scanned.

Officials estimate approximately 23,000 ballots are affected by the two issues. Results will continue to be updated in real-time on the results dashboard as ballots are counted and validated.

“No matter what side of the aisle, I think we can all agree that waiting nearly a week for election results is unacceptable. We can do better,” said Clarice Schillinger, executive director of Back to School PA, a group that supported school board candidates who want to keep students in the classrooms.

Joe Gale, the sole Republican Montgomery County Commissioner, sounded off on the issue and about his own party yesterday via Instagram.

“Yet another election mess has been caused by Act 77, the unconstitutional Pennsylvania law that created 50 days of no-excuse mail-in voting,” said Gale, a GOP Pennsylvania gubernatorial hopeful. “If you or someone you know lost an election because of mail-in voting or the results still remain unknown because of mail-in voting, be sure to blame Doug ‘Mail-In’ Mastriano and every other Republican state senator who voted for Act 77.”

Ken Lawrence, vice chairman of the county commissioners told The Reporter that amid the ongoing controversy he was excited about the turnout for Tuesday’s election.

“I think there was a lot of interest in this election, particularly the school board races, our local elections,” Lawrence said. “So I think it’s great to see people were coming out to vote in person or to vote by mail.”

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Election Marred by Ballot Problems in Montco, Delco Lead to Call for Recount

A red wave has seemingly washed over Pennsylvania, although ballots were still being counted two days after Election Day 2021.

In Bucks County – which drew a 40 percent voter turnout, higher than Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties – GOP members will now head the row offices of sheriff, district attorney, recorder of deeds, prothonotary, and county controller. Patricia Popkik, chairwoman of the Republican Party of Bucks County, isn’t surprised by the GOP’s dominance.

“So many people are awakened, stirred up, and enthused,” Popkik says, adding that her organization trained 150 new poll workers this election. “They’re unhappy with what’s going on in Washington. Voters have made it clear that they want changes.”

Republicans also swept statewide judicial elections, fueling the party’s hope for 2022, in which voters will decide a new governor and a new U.S. senator. After all, the party of the president usually loses seats in Congress in midterm elections, and a Republican has replaced an outgoing Democratic governor in Pennsylvania for the past 60 years.

“The gubernatorial race is very much in play and something Republicans can take as long as Democrat leadership keeps making these ridiculous rules and building these enormous debts,” Popkik says.

In nearby Virginia and New Jersey, Republicans continued to make gains. Glenn Youngkin flipped the governor’s office in Virginia, defeating former Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe, and Democratic incumbent Phil Murphy eked out a victory over GOP challenger Jack Cittarelli in a surprisingly close race. Education, specifically a parent’s say in what their child is taught, was a main issue in the Virginia race. Meanwhile, the New Jersey race focused on issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, such as Murphy’s lockdowns, mask mandates, and vaccine requirements for teachers.

Considering that President Joe Biden won Virginia by 10 points and New Jersey by 16 points in 2020, those races indicate many voters aren’t satisfied with his first year in office.

“It’s a big win for the rule of law and family values in Pennsylvania, nearby Virginia and beyond, as residents voted for judicial restraint and repudiation of the dangerous and divisive Biden/Harris agenda,” says Gordon Eck, chairman of the Republican Committee of Chester County. “Locally, while the votes are still being counted, our gains appear to be more modest, yet significant at the municipal and school board level in supporting accountability in government and ensuring parents are given their rightful place in their children’s education and health.”

As of 10:30 p.m. on Nov. 3, Montgomery County recorded 35.2 percent voter turnout. Considering the effort the county’s Democratic Party put forth in encouraging residents to participate, from mailing campaigns to knocking on doors, chairman Joe Foster was disappointed by the low turnout.

“We went the extra yard to grind out the vote, but these races never generate the kind of expense that more high-profile races do, and with that expense comes more coverage,” Foster says. “The politics of the country today are so hard, unforgiving and accusatory that even when you make the extra expense and knock on more doors, maybe people are just tired of politics. Maybe there’s voter fatigue out there. I wonder if you can only rev up the base so many times.”

In contrast to the rest of the region, Democrats performed well in Delaware County thanks to hundreds of local candidates and grassroots activists knocking on doors, making phone calls, sending text messages and dropping literature on doorsteps to communicate the importance of this election to voters.

The party is celebrating wins for Delaware County Council candidates Kevin Madden and Richard Womack, Sheriff Jerry Sanders, Controller Joanne Phillips, and Rachel Ezzell Berry for register of wills.

“We have prevailed at the ballot box despite the national trend of voter dissatisfaction,” says Delaware County Democratic Chair Colleen Guiney. “In 2017, Democrats established a strong foothold in county government. In 2019, they won control. But this year, voters have made it clear that Democratic representation is here to stay.”

However, two Republican county chairpersons claim controversy with the election, particularly due to mail-in ballots (primarily used by Democrat voters).

On Wednesday, the Montgomery County Election Results Dashboard indicated 65,968 mail-in ballots had been received by 8 p.m. on Election Day. However, the correct number was approximately 71,000, according to Montgomery County Republican Chair Liz Havey. Additionally, she said the party learned approximately 9,000 of the 20,000 outstanding mail-in ballots were unable to be read by the scanners due to a printing error. As a result, those ballots have to be manually recreated by teams of Republican and Democrat volunteers.

This process is expected to continue through Saturday, Havey says, stressing that official results won’t be ready until the process is complete.

“What’s clear is the mail-in ballot process has led to great confusion and distrust in the system,” she says. “The Montgomery County Election Board and the Department of State must do better and be held accountable.”

Thomas McGarrigle, chair of the Delaware County Republican Party, has gone one step further.  He’s calling on Delaware County to do a voluntary recount of the entire election.

“I’m not a lawyer and don’t know the many intricacies of election law, but I do know that all of the errors the county has admitted that its third-party vendor has caused have imperiled the integrity of the election,” McGarrigle says.

On Nov. 30, there was an emergency hearing to address why more than 600 ballots were mailed to the wrong residents in Delco by ElectionIQ, a third-party vendor hired by the county.

“Let candidates be able to see if they won or lost without having to rely on technology that has repeatedly failed the county and all voters in this election cycle,” McGarrigle says.

“I am calling on the Democratic Party to stand with us as we request the Democrat-controlled government to voluntarily recount these ballots. This is a perfect opportunity to restore trust in government and restore trust and integrity to the electoral process.”

Bucks County Democratic Party Chair John Cordisco and Chester County Democratic Party Chair Charlotte Valyo didn’t return requests for comment.



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DelVal Pundits, Politicians React to Tuesday’s Election

Republicans are smiling and Democrats are scratching their heads about the outcomes of some high-profile races on Nov. 2. Political pundits and politicians are offering their thoughts on what it means, if anything, for the midterm election in 2022.

In the closely-watched Virginia race, businessman Glenn Youngkin beat longtime Democratic operative and former Gov. Terry McAuliffe.  The race was a referendum of sorts on President Joe Biden and his handling of illegal immigration, the botched Afghanistan withdrawal, the economy and inflation, the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and other travels, along with a failure of messaging on McAuliffe’s part. While Youngkin spoke about issues that matter to Virginians, like education and rising prices, McAuliffe brought in Biden, former President Barck Obama, and other national Democrats to campaign for him.

Biden sold himself as a competent politician and a reasonable Democrat but has governed like a progressive, so moderate Democrats and independents are becoming disenchanted, analysts say.

Franklin & Marshall Professor Berwood Yost, director and chief methodologist of Franklin & Marshall College’s Center for Opinion Research, spoke with the Delaware Valley Journal on Wednesday.

“It certainly tells us something about right now,” said Yost. “And that is there’s some malaise perhaps among Democrats. We see some weakening among liberals, some moderates, as I said, who may have supported the president and his party. Suburban voters, women didn’t come out. That’s going to be a huge problem in 2022 if it continues.”

Odd-year elections tend to be low-turnout affairs, but this year suburban voters appeared to be more motivated while Democratic strongholds like Philadelphia had lower participation.

“When you think back to where we were a year ago, nearly 80 percent of the state’s registered voters came out to vote in the presidential election,” said Yost. “I’m guessing that in this particular race, we’re going to be lucky to be around 30 percent of the state’s voters, registered voters coming out.” That would be typical for an odd-year election.

Charlie Gerow, a Republican political strategist running for governor, says he believes voters are disenchanted with the Democrats, and Tuesday’s results bode well for the GOP in 2022.

“Tuesday was a really strong message from parents and patriots,” said Gerow. “And I believe next year Pennsylvania will send the same message. And all of us are anxious to have our voices heard in favor of a strong economy and quality education where parents are in charge. and for individual liberty and freedom. I think the vast majority of Pennsylvanians want these things.”

Guy Ciarrocchi, president of the Chester County Chamber of Business and Industry, who is also a gubernatorial candidate, said, “These results are only the beginning. Clearly, there are thousands of voters who have rejected the left-wing Democrat party—a party of mandates and arrogance, lacking respect for parents and citizens. But, this is not a guarantee for a Republican victory in 2022.

“We must prove to voters that we will focus on restoring power into the hands of citizens, away from government,” said Ciarrocchi. “We must be committed to solving real problems. Let’s get people back to work and grow our economy. Let’s make sure our kids are learning what they need to succeed—and, aren’t being used as political pawns to promote radical agendas.

“To be successful in 2022, the GOP must welcome those frustrated voters—especially from our suburbs— and earn their trust with a common-sense conservative platform based on restoring power to parents and local businesses. We must offer a path forward,” said Ciarrocchi.

Republican David Galluch, who is running for Congress in Delaware County, said, “Yesterday’s election outcomes indicate the American people are rejecting the agenda of President Biden and his allies in Congress. Families and parents are tired of their concerns being ignored — when it comes to their children, when it comes to their economic well-being, and when it comes to their view that leaders have been unresponsive and unable to deliver results.

“Voters are looking for leaders who will listen to them, represent them, and inspire justified pride in who we are as a nation,” said Galluch. “The results in Virginia, New Jersey, and here in Pennsylvania show Americans want positive change and an escape from the hardships President Biden and a Democratic Congress have created and presided over the last year.”

Professor Robin Kolodny, who chairs the political science department for Temple University, does not believe this week’s elections presage much for next year’s midterms. She cited Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball as a source, saying, “Virginia is not a very good predictor of the midterm elections.”

And despite the fact New Jersey is a deep-blue state Biden carried by 16 points just a year ago, Kolodny says Gov. Phil Murphy’s razor-thin reelection should be viewed as good news for Democrats. “The bottom line – it looks like the parties might have to call it a draw, which is not very helpful for predicting anything about 2022.”

In 2009, Republican candidates overperforming in New Jersey and Virginia foreshadowed a Democratic “shellacking” — as Obama called it at the time — in. 2010, when Republicans took 63 seats in Congress to win the majority.

Pundits also mentioned the redistricting process redrawing maps across the U.S.

“And another thing – probably the most important issue right now for the midterm elections is how the new maps will look in certain key states. Expect some surprising court decisions in some places,” she said.

Yost also said redistricting will be important to the 2022 election landscape.

“Pennsylvania is a 50-50 state in many ways,” said Yost. And I think we’re going to see competitive races depending on how those districts are redrawn. We’re going to have an odd number of (congressional) seats. We’re going to lose a seat.”

But with a Democratic governor and Republican legislature, “we won’t get the kind of gerrymandered maps we did in 2011.” But he expects “plenty of close races and we’ll probably see a close split in the delegation after 2022.”

Galluch also mentioned redistricting as key.

“The redistricting process will create new lines for our congressional districts,” said Galluch. “It will not change the concerns and will of the electorate. Voters in Virginia were clear — as I believe they were in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. It’s time for change, it’s time for new leadership, and it’s time to put partisan politics aside so we can solve our nation’s most pressing issues.”

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Republicans Retake County Row Offices in Bucks

Bucks County incumbent Republican District Attorney Matthew Weintraub easily won re-election Tuesday, 58 percent to 41 percent over Democratic challenger Antonietta Stancu. And that may be just the beginning of the good news for the Bucks County GOP.

In the unofficial tallies, Republicans appear to have won some of the county row offices as well, with Fred Harran leading Democrat Mark Lomax in the sheriff’s race, 53-46 percent. Coleen Christian holds a similar lead over Democrat Judi Reiss for county prothonotary.

Pamela Van Blunk bested incumbent Democrat Neale Dougherty for controller 53 to 46 percent and GOP candidate Dan McPhillips prevailed over Robin Robinson 54 percent to 46 percent for recorder of deeds.

“It had been an honor to serve the citizens of Bucks County these last four years,” said Dougherty. “Working with the incredible team of caring and dedicated professionals here in the controller’s office has been a privilege. Congratulations to my opponent, I wish her all the best going forward.”

In Delaware County, Democrat candidates have pulled ahead for the county row offices, with incumbent Sheriff Jerry Sanders topping challenger Larry Weigand 51 percent to 48 percent. However, mail-in ballots were still being counted there Wednesday morning.

Two Democrats in the county council race, incumbent Councilman Kevin Madden and newcomer Richard Womack were ahead of Republicans Joseph Lombardo and Frank Agovino.

GOP Chairman Thomas McGarrigle noted the Republicans had been ahead Tuesday night, but the mail-in ballots are breaking Democratic. In many municipal races, like Upper Darby and Collingdale, Republicans are doing well. McGarrigle also chided county officials for their clumsy handling of the elections.

“You look at the county, it’s clear they can’t govern and the residents of Delaware County have seen that,” said McGarrigle, noting the Republicans ran clean, fair, and efficient elections there for 150 years.

“This is the fourth election these individuals have run and we’ve had problem after problem,” McGarrigle said. “We took them to court because 5,000 plus ballots were mailed out after the deadline.”

In Chester County, where mail-in votes were also still in the counting process Wednesday morning, it remains a nail-biter.

Republicans were hanging on to a lead in some of the county row offices including Jeanna Nicholas at 50 percent to incumbent Patricia Maisano at 47 percent and Controller Margaret Reif at 49 percent to challenger Regina Mauro at 50 percent.

“I would like to thank and congratulate all of our candidates, campaign workers, and volunteers from the top to the bottom of the ticket for the work they have done during this election cycle,” Chester County Democratic Chairwoman Charlotte Valyo said in a statement.

“Our candidates ran positive, fair campaigns focused on issues, facts, and accomplishments. The ballot counting in Chester County will continue today. Mail-in ballots that were received by mail or in drop boxes after 7:00 p.m. Friday, October 29 until 8:00 p.m. Tuesday, November 2 are still being processed.

“The initial results for the state judicial and county-wide races are very favorable. Mail-in ballots cast during an election are primarily cast by Democratic voters. If this trend continues, I see a victory for the voters of Chester County.”

Montgomery County’s row offices were not up for grabs in this election, but the county had municipal and school board races, as well as judicial contests.

Early Wednesday morning, Montgomery County GOP Chairwoman Elizabeth Havey Preate said, “The county has not completed the count as they had expected. But it appears Republicans had a great night winning in several blue townships across Montgomery County.”

Statewide there were several judgeships on the line, including a seat on the state Supreme Court.

Reports Wednesday morning showed Republican Judge Kevin Brobson beat Judge Maria McLaughlin for that post.

While Republican Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel predicted a “red wave” will sweep the country next year, Temple University political science department chair Professor Robin Kolodny said the most important factor for the 2022 midterms is likely how the redistricting maps are drawn.

“Probably the most important issue right now for the midterm elections is how the new maps will look in certain key states. Expect some surprising court decisions in some places,” she said.

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A DelVal Election Day Marked by Light Turnout With Slow Results

Turnout was light for Tuesday’s general election in the DelVal area, with school board races on the front burner in many areas, as parents who became newly aware of their children’s curriculum thanks to in-home learning during the pandemic came out to vote.

The Back to School PA funded some 300 candidates statewide with more than $500,000 largely from Bucks County hedge fund partner Paul Martino. Its driving force is the idea that kids need in-class learning and the fear the school boards would once again cave to the teacher’s unions and close the schools. While Back to School PAC funded a substantial number of school board candidates, the state teacher’s union gave more to support school board candidates and has for years, said Clarice Schillinger, executive director of Back to School PA.

“Regardless of our wins, our children have gained thousands of community members standing up for their education, and to us, that is a huge win. Back to School PA set out to bipartisanly bring advocates and candidates together who believe in-person education is essential and we can proudly say we accomplished just that,” said Schillinger.

In Chester County, the in-person voting appeared to show the Republican candidates winning the various county row offices late Tuesday evening. However, Chester County GOP Chairman Dr. Gordon Eck pointed out some 28,000 mail-in ballots had not been counted, and another 5,000 might come in on Wednesday so that could change the results of those races.

“We’ll see what tomorrow brings,” Eck said.

One race that was hotly fought was the Bucks County district attorney position. With 34 percent of the vote in at midnight, incumbent Republican Matthew Weintraub was ahead 58 percent to challenger Antonette Stancu’s 41 percent.

Weintraub posted this message to his campaign Facebook page: “Since the day I first stepped foot in the DA’s office as an intern during my Temple law school days, I knew I had found my true calling. Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your DA during the last 5 years. I look forward to continuing as your District Attorney and on this Election Day, I ask for your vote.”

Later Tuesday evening he said, “Everyone has been so supportive. I’m excited to continue to serve the people of Bucks County as district attorney.”

At midnight, with 57 percent of the vote tallied in Delaware County, the races for sheriff and county council were too close to call.

Incumbent Sheriff Jerry Sanders, a Democrat, had 48,95 percent of the vote and challenger Republican Larry Weigand had 50.05 percent. The county council races showed Republican Joseph Lombardi ahead with 25.41 percent, closely followed by the two Democrats, Richard Womack and Kevin Madden and Republican Frank Agovino.

“We still have 40 percent of precincts, and thousands of mail ballots to be reported as I write to you,” Delaware County Democratic Chairwoman Colleen Guiney said in an email. “I am cautiously optimistic that as votes are counted, we will have a good outcome for the people of Delaware County. I encourage all voters to remain patient as our dedicated Election Board employees continue their process to ensure a free and fair election for our county.”

Meanwhile, Montgomery County Democratic Chair Joe Foster was pleased that his voters turned out Tuesday.

“Generally, the day was good and it appears that Democrats had about mid-30s percent turnout,” said Foster. “We are hoping that it turns out to be 40 percent or thereabouts but we will have to wait to see. It was low voter turnout but seemed to pick up beginning (in the) afternoon. So we will see.”

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DelVal Voters Cite School Board Races, Taxes and Civic Duty as Reasons to Vote Today

As rain threatened Tuesday morning, voter turnout in many places around the Delaware Valley was light.

Up for grabs are seats on school boards, various municipal and county offices, and judges, including an opening on the state Supreme Court where the candidates, Republican Kevin Brobson and Democrat Maria McLaughlin, have made some waves with negative television ads.

In Montgomery County, Cheltenham resident, Lynn Brown, said high taxes brought her to the polls.

“I’m voting Republican this time because of the high school district taxes and hopefully something will be done about it,” said Brown, who usually supports Democrats. At 9:15 a.m., she was only the 23rd voter. The polls opened at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

Roy Hollinger, a GOP committeeman in Cheltenham, said turnout was sparse because “there are no overriding issues. You look on the TV and all the ads are about New Jersey. There was nothing to stir us up.”

Over in Abington, several voters said they always vote in every election.

Paul Morse, who is running for the school board, agreed that turnout was light. He previously served on the board from 1989 to 2000 but decided to run again because he does not like the direction the current board is taking the district.

Morse, who is one of the candidates who received the backing from the Back to School PAC, which poured more than $500,000 into school board races across the state on the issue of keeping kids in school, said masks and vaccine mandates are big issues with parents. He also opposes Critical Race Theory, a controversial Marxist-inspired doctrine taught in the schools and is also concerned about new apartments being built that he believes will bring many more children to Abington, causing fiscal issues.

Campaign signs at the Abington Library.

“Art and music could be sacrificed,” he said. “The school board is not listening to the community or parents.”

Also, the Abington School District is now ranked lower both statewide and nationally under the current leadership, he said.

In Jenkintown, school board candidate Lisa Smith, a Democrat who cross-filed, was greeting voters. A social worker and the mother of four kids, the first-time candidate said she’s running “as a strong advocate” to support children and families. Dave Alexander, a Democrat who is running for constable, was handing out campaign literature.

“I believe in free and fair elections,” said Alexander.

At Sugartown Elementary School in Chester County’s Willistown Township resident Karl Hawkins said that he was concerned about the school board races.

Karl Hawkins

“It’s critical that there is a high turnout today, the most important office that’s on the ballot today is the school board,” said Hawkins. “Education has been a core issue around the country and in this area recently and I want to make sure that our voices are heard on this front. The off-year elections are always tough and we won’t know till about 10 pm tonight how our efforts turned out.”

Dee Miller, another Willistown resident said, “Local elections are very important because there’s nothing more important than where you live,” said Dee Miller. I’ll be paying close attention to the supervisor races because they set up the policies for the township, and in Willistown we have a very nice old-fashioned way of life. I think today will be a good turnout because a lot of people are focused on local issues right now, at the end of the day politics at the local level have a bigger impact on your life than the national level.”

Meanwhile in Bucks County, Roland Holroyd, 68, a Trump-supporting Republican who has lived in Bensalem for 45 years, said he was “absolutely horrified about what’s occurring on the national level.”

“I think we have to make great changes and ensure our kids are getting the proper education and not a lot of indoctrination,” said Holroyd, who voted Republican down the ticket. “We have to concentrate on making our children succeed in subject matter — mathematics, reading, mastery of the language, history being taught in a factual and fair way without any kind of external influence as to the judgment on the actions of people. It has to be in the context of the time in which it occurred. … There’s a lot of talk about Critical Race Theory. … I think it’s not the job of schools to fashion our society in one way or another.”

His wife was a teacher and he has a grandson who attends a private school because of the family’s concerns about the curriculum at public schools in Bensalem.

Holroyd voted for incumbent District Attorney Matthew Weintraub because Bucks County needs “strong law enforcement.”

“I look around the country, and I see what’s happening with district attorneys almost invalidating laws,” he said, referring to a new measure passed by the Philadelphia City Council banning police officers from pulling over drivers for minor traffic violations. “We just can’t have a lawless county. We’re seeing the unequal application of the law when it comes to the summer riots of Black Lives Matter. And then we have people who are being held as political prisoners because of the Jan. 6 protests in Washington.”

Holroyd is tired of identity politics mattering more than public servants’ resumes.

“We at a point where people are chosen not for their competence to do a job,” Holroyd said. “We have a cabinet that’s either based on sexual preference, or race or their appearance instead of the fact that they had any serious qualifications to do those positions. The direction we’re going in is not what we expected.”

A campaign sign in Bensalem

Bensalem resident Luana Gordon, 85, came out for the mayoral race between Democrat Val Ridge and Republican and longtime Mayor Joe DiGirolamo. She voted for “Joe D,” as he’s affectionately known.

“I like the consistency,” said Gordon, who grew up in Philadelphia and settled down in the township, where she’s lived for the last two decades. “I like the way things run here. It’s peaceful, it’s quiet. … I think today the youth have kind of lost their moral compass. It’s upsetting to me. In my day, nobody locked their doors. You could walk the streets at any hour and nobody got mugged or robbed. We helped each other. I don’t see that today.”

She said she felt Weintraub would keep Bucks County safe for her and her 7-year-old great-grandson, who accompanied her to the polls.

“We always try to make things for the next generation. It got to a point where instead of being grateful for what we’re given, they expected it. It’s an entitlement issue,” she said. “Things will be turning around. The jails are full. Drugs are a big part of it. There’s a lot of unknowns… I just try to hang on to what I’ve got here and steer things in the right direction. I think anybody, Democrat or Republican, who runs for office is trying to do the best as they see it. We just look at the same thing and see it differently. My generation sees it one way, and somebody’s generation sees it another way.”

David Larson, 82, who has lived in Bensalem for 40 years, said he picked “the best person” regardless of party affiliation. He was old school and wouldn’t reveal the candidates he voted for, but acknowledged he didn’t like the last president. And that still influences how he votes today.

“Some people do a good job,” he said. “For me personally, Donald Trump was a big problem for this country. I don’t like the way he talks. I don’t like the way he incites riots. I think he’s a racist. In fact, I know he’s a racist.”

He said he was impressed by a couple of Republicans on the ticket who are effective leaders, but hinted that he went Democrat Antonetta Stancu for district attorney.

“Too many people in jail for things that really don’t matter,” Larson said.

And in Delaware County, Radnor resident Sara Pilling voted at Rosemont Plaza. She was voter number 80 at 10 a.m. but was uncertain how busy that was, noting that many people vote by mail these days.

“Why did I vote this election? First, and most important, it is my civic duty to vote,” said Pilling. “And, I am very concerned about this movement of conservative Republicans to take over school boards. It was vital to deny – in Radnor the Reimagine Radnor – them a win. I voted for three Dems and one Republican (David Falcone).”

Matt Marshall, another Radnor resident said, “I voted today for change on the Radnor Township School Board. The incumbent members of the RTSD School Board, and by extension the administration, are too partisan. They have not listened to the concerns of the Radnor taxpayers. We need a locally focused School Board as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic. Now is time for a change, so I voted for all the Reimagine Radnor candidates who will be more focused on the students, parents and alumni of the Radnor School District.”

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Delco Officials Admit Sending Hundreds of Ballots To Wrong Voters

Delaware County has sent hundreds of ballots to the incorrect address and voters, county officials confirmed Thursday to Delaware Valley Journal.

Radnor GOP Chair Howard Gartland began getting complaints this week from people who had requested mail-in ballots from the county but received ballots with someone else’s name and address on the inside, return envelope.

Gartland told DVJournal he advised them to take the ballots to the county Voter Services Center in Media or to vote in-person with a provisional ballot. However, he noted, “provisional ballots are only counted in a very close race.”

“We almost certainly have people voting for other people,” said Gartland. One resident knew the person whose name was on the inside of her ballot and called her about it, he said.

Bryn Mawr resident Kathy Bogosian said she had gotten a ballot with someone else’s name inside.

“I was concerned,” she said. “If I got one wrong ballot, then other people did, too.  I thought, ‘What idiots.’” The election on Nov. 2 involves local municipal and county officials and school board members, which are often decided by a handful of votes, Bogosian said.

“A few ballots could make a big difference.”

Contacted by DVJournal, Director of Election Operations James Allen acknowledged the county had, in fact, mailed out 670 incorrectly marked ballots.

He blamed a vendor that “misprinted outbound envelopes.”

“In one of the smaller, final files, our printing and mailing vendor misprinted outbound envelopes,” Allen admitted. “Those envelopes (and their contents) are being canceled so that even if they were to be returned, they cannot be processed. The vendor is working to mail out replacements to the affected individuals.”

Voters who receive the ballots with the errors can either wait for their re-mailed ballot, visit the Voter Services Center in Media for a new ballot (which would also cancel the re-mailed ballot), or go to their precinct polling place on Election Day to cast a provisional ballot.

“We truly regret this error, which surfaced yesterday, and that we are working to resolve as quickly as possible,” said Allen.

Meanwhile, Bogosian fears that, because of the slow pace of mail delivery, she doubts a replacement ballot that’s mailed this close to the election would arrive in time to be counted.

Bogosian, who is on the Delaware County Planning Commission, said she sometimes does not get mail from that office in time for scheduled meetings, despite the fact it’s mailed eight to 10 days in advance.

“I think the whole system is very bad and needs to be addressed,” she said. “At this point, I’m just going to go to the polls.”

Later, Allen, said that Gartland was mistaken and that provisional ballots are counted.

“Election administrators across the United States are committed to and required by law to process every single ballot, or partial ballot, that is legally valid and submitted on time,” said Allen.  “Unfortunately, there have been repetitions of old and entirely false memes that certain types of ballots are counted only if there is a ‘close’ contest. By law, election authorities must continue to process every valid ballot submitted by the deadline. This is one of the many reasons that elections are certified approximately two to three weeks after Election Day, regardless of whether any contests are close.”