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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