Philly region certifies election results as Trump legal challenges continue to falter

Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Bucks counties completed certification ahead of the Nov. 23 end-of-day deadline.

  • Katie Meyer/WHYY
  • Ryan Briggs/WHYY

(Philadelphia) – Counties across the Philadelphia region have certified their election results, inching the commonwealth closer to making President-elect Joe Biden’s victory official despite weeks of litigation filed by President Donald Trump’s campaign.

By Monday afternoon, only the city itself remained, with a vote on certification set to pass at a 7 p.m. meeting.

“Philadelphia County will be certifying the election results later today,” Philadelphia GOP City Commissioner Al Schmidt said in a CNN interview earlier.

Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Bucks counties completed certification ahead of the Nov. 23 end-of-day deadline. In Bucks, certification was delayed as the Trump campaign sought an expedited appeal for a lawsuit over a few thousand ballots with technical mistakes, but commissioners approved certification unanimously Monday afternoon.

The vast majority of Pennsylvania’s counties are also expected to certify the results of the presidential election on Monday. Several counties elsewhere in Pa. warned they would be unable to report their final results to the Pennsylvania Department of State today. At least three –– Berks, Schuylkill and Westmoreland –– cited minor delays, indicating their certified vote counts would be delayed a few days.

Wanda Murren, a spokesperson for the department, could not estimate when the state as a whole would certify its results.

“Certification is not usually a public event,” she said. “The Department of State continues to work closely with, and support, all 67 counties as they work to complete the election certification process.”

Normally a routine, procedural step, the certification votes come as Trump supporters pursue longshot efforts in both state and federal court to block the official tallies. The Trump campaign sought a temporary restraining order on Monday to prevent certification, and has already vowed to dispute final election results even if the state moves forward. In swing states like Georgia, which finalized its results on Friday, the campaign has called for a second recount and surrogates have promised a “major lawsuit” is coming.

The campaign has been on shaky legal footing. Over the weekend, a Pennsylvania case in federal district court drew a reprimand from the judge that tossed it. (The Trump campaign is appealing that decision).

The campaign was served another legal defeat on Monday, as the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reversed a lower court ruling that would have struck more than 8,000 ballots cast in Philadelphia and invalidated 2,300 in Allegheny County.

Despite ongoing litigation, Biden remains poised to win 306 electoral college votes, 36 more than needed for the presidency.

States are still gradually certifying their results, and even in non-swing states where those results aren’t being contested, they aren’t all finalized. Of the six most hotly contested swing states, Georgia and Michigan have certified their results.

Nevada’s deadline is Tuesday, Nov. 24, Arizona’s is Nov. 30, and Wisconsin’s is Dec. 1.

Monday saw some Republican county election officials across Pennsylvania cast protest votes against certifying results.

Joe Gale, the sole Republican on the three-person Montgomery County Board of Commissioners released a statement last week indicating that he would oppose certification. The Trump ally pointed to “widely publicized irregularities” with mail-in voting, calling the no-excuse vote-by-mail legislation passed by the Republican-controlled statehouse last year “an act of sabotage against President Trump.”

“I believe the U.S. Supreme Court should review the travesty that has happened in Pennsylvania,” Gale said, as the Montco board certified results in a 2-to-1 vote.

Elsewhere, Allegheny County Election Board member Sam DeMarco cast a minority vote against certification in an area that broke decisively for Biden, depicting his decision as a call to action for Harrisburg to tighten restrictions on mail-in voting.

Even some counties won by Trump saw officials cast votes against certification.

Two Republican board members in Luzerne County, which went for Trump by around 22,000 votes, opposed certification. Republican Joyce Dombroski-Gebhardt asked for an audit of 10% of votes to detect instances of “double voting” –– although there is not evidence any voters cast ballots twice.

At a public meeting ahead of the vote, county GOP chair Justin Behrens alluded to still-pending litigation.

“We need to get those answers first, before we go out and certified, so that I asked the board that if they would consider to not certify this election, so that we don’t disenfranchise the voters of Luzerne County,” he said.

The county board voted 3 to 2 Monday in favor of certifying the election.

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Up Next
Politics & Policy

Biden makes historic picks in naming foreign policy, national security teams