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Delaware County Bureau of Elections Completes Successful Election Recount

From a press release

The Delaware County Bureau of Elections recently completed a successful recount of votes cast during the Nov. 8, 2022 General Election, verifying the official election results reported shortly after Election Day.

The recount was undertaken as part of an agreement with a small group of residents who had filed a petition in the Delaware County Court of Common Pleas, seeking recounts in multiple precincts to address their concerns that the vote tallies in Delaware County were inaccurate.

During a hearing held on Nov. 22, before Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Judge Barry Dozor, the petitioners agreed to withdraw their petition—in exchange for which the Board of Elections agreed to conduct a full recount of a single precinct of the petitioners’ choosing; Haverford 2-3 was their precinct of choice.

Conducted at the Bureau of Elections’ offices at the Union Power Plant building in Chester on Jan. 12, 2023, the recount involved seven observers representing the petitioners, eight County workers, and a party leader, and took a little over four hours to complete.

The recount was first conducted using certified tabulation equipment and then separately, was conducted by hand, allowing the observers to examine every Election Day ballot, absentee ballot, mail-in ballot, and provisional ballot from a distance of two feet.

The recount provided a 100% verification of the original vote totals for each candidate for the four races on the Haverford 2-3 ballot—including candidates for U.S. Senate, Governor / Lieutenant Governor, the U.S. House (the 5th District), and State House (the 166th District)—inclusive of every Election Day, mail-in and provisional ballot.

“Everything was verified 100 percent,” said Delaware County Director of Elections James Allen. “Every single vote, every single contest, every single over vote, every single under vote, every single write in.”

The successful recount was the latest vindication for the Delaware County Bureau of Elections, which like many election offices across the country in the wake of the 2020 General Election, has faced—and won—numerous lawsuits regarding election results. In all, The County of Delaware has prevailed in over a dozen lawsuits that have been filed in the Delaware County court system since 2020, with cases either dismissed or ruled in the County’s favor.

“We have now been through six recounts with the current balloting system, two of which included hand recounts,” explained Director Allen. “In all of the recounts, in each and every case, the original results have been confirmed—even a mayoral contest that was decided by three votes.”

In addition, risk-limiting audits of randomly selected precincts—using manual hand counts of mail-in and/or precinct ballots—are performed after each election in Pennsylvania. These audits have successfully verified the results of each election in Delaware County since the audit process was first implemented in 2020.

“These recounts really underscore not only the professional work being done by our Bureau of Elections under Jim Allen, but also the great work being done by our poll workers,” said county Councilwoman Christine Reuther, adding “These recounts and risk-limiting audits really illustrate the accuracy of our processes and demonstrate that that our balloting system is accurate and secure.”

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Should the Delaware Valley Follow New Jersey’s Strict Plastic Bag Ban?

New Jersey has banned food service businesses, grocery stores, and retail stores from providing single-use plastic bags in a cause celebre for anti-plastic activists. But one critic says that move flies in the face of scientific fact.

Many Delaware Valley residents are preparing for their municipalities to jump on the bag ban bandwagon. And several towns are already on board.

At least eight other states have a similar plastic bag ban, and Philadelphia and other big cities such as Boston and Los Angeles have also instituted them.

Zach Taylor, director of the American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance, notes the downside of bag bans.

“Regardless of the policy specifics, bans force retailers and consumers to switch to products that are often made from plastic, are nonrecyclable, and have greater environmental impacts than the products they replace,” Taylor said. “It’s hard to see how policies that require bags with worse environmental profiles advance the sustainability goals that supposedly underpin these regulations.”

And for thousands of Pennsylvania workers, plastic represents something else entirely: Good-paying jobs. Approximately 37,221 plastics-related jobs are in Pennsylvania. Some 6,931 of them are in Berks, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, and Philadelphia Counties.

In April, an eight-to-one vote by the Haverford Township Board of Commissioners made it the first in Delaware County to ban single-use plastic bags. Beginning in January, businesses will no longer be allowed to provide customers with beverage stirrers or plastic take-out bags, and plastic straws will only be available upon request.

Commissioner Conor Quinn was the only commissioner who voted against the ban. His objection was the inclusion of plastic straws. In Quinn’s work with people living with ALS, he told WHYY that many of those people would need straws in public facilities and he does not believe they should have to go out of their way to ask for them.

Climate change and concerns about litter are the primary motives for the bans. According to the regulation, single-use plastic bags, beverage stirrers, and straws degrade more slowly than recyclable alternatives. Enacting significant restrictions on them is intended to improve the health of the environment and its people.

Joy Baxter, a resident of Havertown, told PhillyVoice she previously wrote to the Board of Commissioners about pursuing a plastic bag ban to decrease litter in Havertown’s waterways.

“We are already dealing with the impacts of single-use plastic litter,” Baxter said. “We should be the ones enacting legislation to deal with it.”

Other Delaware Valley municipalities, including Radnor and Tredyffrin Townships, are considering their single-use plastic regulations. And Narberth was the first to enact a ban but took the state to court to be allowed to enforce it. Eventually, that case, which Lower Merion and Philadelphia joined, died after the legislature removed the section barring municipalities from enacting plastic bag bans from a fiscal bill.

After the July 2019 Borough Council approval, West Chester has implemented its plastic bag ban as of Jan. 1. While paper bags are permitted as an alternative, they must consist of recycled content and also be recyclable.

Businesses must charge and disclose a 10-cent fee on each bag provided to customers. That regulation does not apply to product packaging or bags without handles used to wrap raw food products such as fish and meat, which could otherwise represent a health hazard.

The New Jersey law is more strict. It requires restaurants and food trucks to stop serving takeout food in Styrofoam-like products. Grocery stores and retailers must also stop selling polystyrene foam products like plates and cups. In fact, New Jersey is the first state to take the extreme step of outlawing paper bags in stores larger than 2,500 square feet.

Those policies are based on politics and posturing, critics say, not science.

“Single-use plastic bags are the worst environmental choice at the supermarket? Wrong: they’re the best choice,” wrote environmental journalist John Tierney in the City Journal. He reports that because single-use bags are so thin and light it takes little energy to ship them — unlike paper or reusable manufactured bags. It also takes far more carbon to make the other bags, which means “the net effect of banning plastic grocery bags is more global warming. Exactly how much more depends on which researchers’ life-cycle analysis you choose, but there’s definitely more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”

At least one resident thinks the ordinance creates a big hassle but with little net effect.

“I don’t mind doing my share to make West Chester a better place for all of us,” said Anita Edgarian. “I like the idea of getting away from plastic bags. However, there has to be a multi-prong approach. How about all the plastic water bottles that are being sold? What do we do about drinks and take-out boxes? Do we have a plan for that?

“It seems useless if we don’t have a manageable plan for the rest of plastic or Styrofoam waste and we only ban plastic bags,” she said. “Most importantly it is hypocritical when leaders fly their private jets to meet and make decisions about the environment for the average person who buys a dozen eggs and can’t have a bag to carry them out.

“Ask anyone who has unwrapped a toy,” she said. “Wouldn’t it be better for the environment if the toy manufacturers didn’t waste so much plastic and cardboard to package toys?”

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