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Battle Over Absentee Ballots in Bucks County to Be Resolved on Wednesday « The Washington Independent

After Rep. Patrick Murphy (D) and challenger Mike Fitzpatrick (R) traded accusations of election monkeying in Bucks County, Pa., the election board has made a last-minute decision to wait to count all the approximately 8,000 absentee ballots it has received until Wednesday.

The reason, in part, stems from accusations made by Republicans that Democrats have forged absentee ballot applications and plan to vote both by mail and in person. Democrats, in turn, have accused Republicans and the local elections board of throwing out a large number of legitimate absentee ballot requests from Democratic voters. By delaying until tomorrow, the new plan is intended to ensure that the absentee ballots of anyone who voted at the polls on election day will be voided:

  • Absentee ballot counting will begin at 12 noon on Wednesday, November 3;
  • Ballot counting will take place in the Community Room of the Bucks County Courthouse, 55 E. Court St., Doylestown, PA 18901
  • The plan is to have the ballots counted by the employees of the county Board of Elections. This plan includes the use of at least 10 staff members, working in teams of two;
  • Each of the two major political parties will be permitted to have five (5) watchers at any one time monitoring the count. Names of the watchers must be submitted to the county Board of Elections prior to the beginning of the count. They may not participate or interfere with the vote counting process;
  • Members of the public will also be permitted to observe. They may not participate or interfere with the vote counting process;
  • Absentee ballots of voters who voted in person at the polls on Election Day will be voided by the ballot counters;

Recent poll numbers from the race indicate that Murphy is trailing Fitzpatrick by a narrow margin, but has been gaining ground. Overall, the race is listed as a toss-up, meaning the election board’s decision will likely delay any knowledge of the outcome by at least a day.

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