One week after the Pennsylvania primary election, Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Trump-endorsed Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, maintained a nearly 1,000-vote lead on his opponent, establishment-endorsed candidate David McCormick.
As of Tuesday morning, 99 percent of the votes from the Keystone State’s May 17 election were counted. All of the counties’ unofficial vote tallies, including the remaining one percent, are due to the Pennsylvania Department of State by 5 p.m. on Tuesday where they will be reviewed for an automatic recount.
Oz has carried the lead for the last seven days, but Pennsylvania’s dragging primary election results have been deemed too close to call. Regardless of the outcome of the Republican showdown, Pennsylvania’s dawdling election tally system requires serious attention and reform.
Pennsylvania is a big and important state whose elections often capture the curiosity of the nation. Yet, between mail-in ballots and glitches, the state is still struggling to define an election day process that ensures votes are legal and expeditiously tabulated.
While other states release their results on election night, Pennsylvania routinely opts to prolong counting for days and days, something that polling strongly suggests undermines the public’s trust in elections. And that’s just for a primary election. Imagine a presidential election coming down to the wire and taking this long.
Without a principled and structured outline for counting conduct, confidence in elections plummets and people can use delays to their advantage. Take the chaotic Iowa caucuses in 2020 as a prime example. After serious snafus and errors, Democrat voters were left for days without knowing who their party’s frontrunner was.
Internal numbers from Bernie Sanders’ campaign suggested he was in the lead. Pete Buttigieg quickly countered with his own set of triumphant numbers. While the elections system in Iowa scrambled to determine a winner, the two candidates and establishment Democrats fought to control the media’s attention and favor.
The same could be said about Pennsylvania’s week-long counting affairs. While voters anxiously await results, McCormick is asking that mail-in ballots be counted even if they have not been dated by the voter, as required by law as part of a testament of authenticity.
To ensure that Americans trust our democracy, which so many politicians on both sides of the aisle say is regularly threatened, we must create and rely on a system worth of trust. Waiting an entire week to hear the results of a primary election simply isn’t that system.
Instead, Republicans should rally around ensuring electoral votes are tabulated securely and quickly in a way that bestows voters with confidence.