Rumor mill: Did ballot counters in PA take the day off?

No, no one’s goldbricking in Pennsylvania. I’m not sure where this rumor started, but it ran like wildfire on social media for a while. Ballot counters in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania did put aside around 29,000 ballots until tomorrow, but as WESA-TV’s Chris Potter reports, it’s not to get some time in on the golf course. It’s because an Allegheny County vendor screwed up its initial delivery of ballots to those voters, requiring special handling — which everyone knew would happen.

Jazz wrote about this last week, picking up on the story from our friend Jim Geraghty:

Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh and is the second-most populous county in the state, accidentally sent out 29,000 copies of the wrong ballot to voters earlier this month, giving people ballots for races in other districts. The county is sending out replacement ballots. But if someone sends back the incorrect ballot and doesn’t send back the correct one, should it count? Should it only count for the races in their district? If someone sends back both the incorrect one and the correct one, will any accidentally get double counted?

All of those are good questions, and election officials in Allegheny came up with a process to deal with the situation. Those ballots got put aside to be handled after all of the other ballots were counted. Potter points out why that was necessary in a lengthy and exasperated Twitter thread:

The review board will meet for the first time tomorrow, Potter reports next in his thread. The county chairs of both parties are on board with this process, as were the two congressional candidates whose race was impacted by it. WTAE reporter David Kaplan explains in his own Twitter thread that everyone entered into a consent decree less than two weeks ago that dictates exactly how these ballots are to be handled:

I did chuckle a bit at Kaplan’s specificity earlier in his thread about the vendor being an “Ohio printer,” but otherwise this is pretty straightforward — and not at all a mystery. If Pennsylvania wasn’t a close-run state, few people would have even noticed this. As it is, however, every single hiccup in this process will get magnified into a national story, if not a national outrage.

By the way, this isn’t an attempt to minimize the real issue in this story. The election may well come down to how well this consent-decree process works on these disputed ballots. As Potter notes, those will mainly be processed by hand, which makes this claim questionable:

That would only be true if the margin of victory exceeds the 29,000 or so sequestered ballots. Allegheny County officials will work hard to get those done accurately, but it will not be a quick process. And rest assured, no one in Pennsylvania is goldbricking this process, not with the nation focused on them and the spectre of Florida 2000 in our peripheral vision.