Democrat clings to Pennsylvania lead, but recount mulled

AP, CANONSBURG, Pennsylvania

Fri, Mar 16, 2018 - Page 7

Republicans eyed a recount and a lawsuit over perceived irregularities in a closely watched US House of Representatives race in Pennsylvania where Democrat Conor Lamb clung to a slender lead in the longtime Republican stronghold friendly to US President Donald Trump.

With the last batch of absentee ballots counted, Lamb, a 33-year-old former prosecutor and first-time candidate, saw his edge over Republican state lawmaker Rick Saccone shrink slightly, to 627 votes out of more than 224,000 cast, according to unofficial results.

The four counties in the Pittsburgh-area district reported they had about 375 uncounted provisional, military and overseas ballots. They have seven days to count the provisional ballots, and the deadline to receive military and overseas ballots is Tuesday.

With the margin so close, supporters of either candidate can ask for a recount.

Saccone is considering lodging a recount request and county officials reported receiving a letter from a law firm requesting that they preserve their records, something the counties say they do anyway under state law.

Republicans are mulling legal action, according to a person familiar with the deliberations who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning.

Officials in Allegheny County, the district’s most populous and Democratic-leaning county, on Wednesday pushed back on Republican claims, saying the lawyers had lacked written authorization from the Republican Party and they had received no reports on Tuesday of malfunctioning voting machines.

Lamb has declared victory. Saccone, a 60-year-old US Air Force veteran and college instructor, has not conceded.

The two men stayed out of sight on Wednesday and Saccone’s campaign said that he had no plans to concede before vote counting was finished.

The counties, under Pennsylvania state law, perform an audit of the results on the electronic voting machines that typically involves comparing the overall tally on a hard drive, a flash drive and a paper tape that separately record each vote.

Deviations are a rarity, county officials said.