Lawyers for Republican nominee Lucinda Little, the only candidate who was listed on the ballot, and Green Party nominee Cheri Honkala, who waged a write-in campaign, sent letters to the Commissioners Thursday, demanding that they seal and preserve the ballots.
Both camps alleged widespread voter fraud in the North Philadelphia district.
Little won just 198 votes, which was 7.4 percent of the 2,681 ballots cast. In an unusual development, 2,483 write-in votes were cast.
The political scene in Pennsylvania can be described many ways, but "boring" is not one of them, especially in recent months. It was one of the three states where Jill Stein pushed for a recount after last November's election. That recount effort was stymied by a combination of nonsense legislation, bait & switch fee structures, local governments' ineptitude, and a bunch of Republican goons—oops, I mean operatives—threatening legal action in multiple courts.
Now Stein's 2012 running mate Cheri Honkala, a legendary advocate for the poor and homeless, is embroiled in her own legal scrap after the special election in Pennsylvania's House District 197. Honkala has, as the song says, been to jail for justice. She was held incommunicado in handcuffs with Stein when they tried to attend a presidential debate in 2012. Civil court should be less painful for her, at least physically.
From the same Philadelphia Inquirer story quoted above:
Samuel Stretton, Honkala’s lawyer, wrote to the commissioners about “allegations of massive fraud and misconduct,” including voters being intimidated or misled, electioneering in polling places and mishandling of ballots after they were cast.
“The fraud is of such massive proportions that I am going to be seeking in federal court to void this election and to hold those accountable for their gross misconduct in undermining our democracy,” Stretton wrote.
To read Cheri's Twitter page in recent days is to dive into a world of campaign chicanery you thought happened only in fiction. If even half the allegations of electoral misconduct on Vazquez's behalf are true, it shows a level of Democratic chutzpah that I find difficult to fathom. I have witnessed similar partisan activity here in Houston, but nothing that I would characterize as blatantly illegal, nothing that involves brazen intimidation of voters (not to say that such doesn't happen, or that Republicans haven't done the same).
As of now, there is no way of predicting when this issue will be resolved, or who will be declared the winner. Honkala still has a good chance of pulling this one out and becoming the first Green in Pennsylvania's state legislature. The ballots will likely stay sealed until the court disposes of the case. For a while, the Kensington neighborhood in North Philly will not have a representative in Harrisburg.
As things stand, regardless of the outcome a write-candidate will emerge victorious in the vote count. But don't discount the possibility of a judge finding both Vazquez and Honkala in violation of some statute and awarding the race to Republican Lucinda Little—in a district where 5% of the voters are registered Republican, and where she received just 7.4% of the vote. That's how weird this whole picture is.