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Blair mail-in ballots on hold

Voters failed to write date on envelope on 10 Republican, 7 Democratic ballots

HOLLIDAYSBURG — Blair County set aside 17 mail-in ballots — 10 Republican and 7 Democratic — because voters in the recent primary failed to write a date on the envelope in which they mailed their ballot.

Election board solicitor Nathan Karn said Tuesday that the county is awaiting further instructions concerning these ballots in light of the lawsuit filed late Monday in Commonwealth Court by the campaign of Republican U.S. Senate candidate David McCormick.

Even if Blair County is instructed to open and count the votes on the set-aside ballots, Karn said there could be other reasons why the votes on those ballots may or may not count.

With only 10 Republican ballots set aside, it’s unlikely that Blair County’s votes will make a difference in the tight race between McCormick and celebrity heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz. But they could be part of a larger group of votes that factor into a race that appears to be headed toward a recount, starting June 1.

Oz, as of Tuesday, has had a lead of just under 1,000 votes.

In McCormick’s lawsuit, Blair and Allegheny are identified as two counties among an unknown number that didn’t count votes from mail-in ballots without a handwritten date on the return envelope.

The lawsuit challenges that action based on a 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, which found the state election law’s requirement of a date next to the voter’s signature on the outside of the return envelopes was “immaterial.”

The Republican Party of Pennsylvania, in a statement issued Monday, indicated that it objects to the counting of undated mail-in ballots.

“Pennsylvania law and our courts have been very clear that undated ballots are not to be counted,” the party’s statement read. “We have worked hard towards restoring confidence in our elections, and we call upon everyone to respect, uphold and follow the clear law on this issue.”

Blair County Republican voters, based on results posted Friday on the county’s website with an update pending, provided Oz with 5,970 votes and McCormick with 5,466 votes.

Those same results also indicate that McCormick’s total included 601 votes from mail-in ballots and that Oz’s total included 547 votes from mail-in ballots.

Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 814-946-7456.

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