Pennsylvania is still processing thousands of mail ballots in the too-close-to-call race.
With just a few tenths of a percentage point separating Mehmet Oz and Dave McCormick in Pennsylvania’s GOP Senate primary, it may be weeks before we know who won.
There are still thousands of votes left to be counted — largely absentee ballots that will be processed slowly in the coming days.
And once those votes are tallied, the race is likely headed to a recount — a process that could drag into early June, according to state law.
This was an especially acute issue in Pennsylvania in 2020, when the state experienced an unprecedented flood of mail voters due to the pandemic and a new state law allowing any voter to vote by mail without an excuse.
Former President Donald Trump used this time lag to spread conspiracy theories about his loss in the 2020 election, as the counting of the mail ballots — which skewed heavily Democratic because Trump’s attacks on mail voting turned off his supporters from the practice — added to Joe Biden’s tally.
Trump is already trying to run back the same playbook again this year. On Wednesday, he encouraged Oz — his endorsed candidate — to “declare victory” in a post on his social media site, falsely suggesting election officials might “find” votes to swing the results.
This is why many states allow for pre-Election Day processing of mail ballots, but Pennsylvania is not one of them. In a statement Tuesday evening, Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman, Pennsylvania’s chief election official, said she expected counties to count the majority of their ballots “within a few days.”
Pennsylvania law requires an automatic statewide recount if the top two candidates in a race are within half a percentage point of each other, which Oz and McCormick currently are.
The secretary of state will make that determination by “the second Thursday following the day of the election,” which would be May 26.
The recount would be run by the individual counties, and it would have to start no later than June 1 and be completed by noon on June 7. Counties would have to submit results to the state by June 8. (Non-recounted races need to be certified by June 6.)
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