Pennsylvania held its 2022 primary elections last week on May 17, but the Republican Senate race remains too close to call as the top two candidates, Dr. Mehmet Oz and David McCormick, are separated by only the slimmest of margins.
The margin is so close that Pennsylvania’s top election official has now formally announced a mandatory recount of the ballots cast in that particular contest, The Hill reported.
Mandatory recount triggered
Per state law, a recount is automatically triggered if the margin of victory in a race is less than 0.5 percent. Currently, Oz holds an advantage over McCormick of less than 0.1 percent, a difference of fewer than 1,000 votes.
According to the unofficial results posted online by the Pennsylvania Department of State, Oz garnered 31.21 percent support and 419,444 votes while McCormick received 31.14 percent support and 418,534 votes.
That means the two candidates are separated by just 910 votes, or 0.07 percent of all votes counted in that race.
The Hill noted that the recount was formally announced Wednesday by acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman, and while counties may begin with that recount as soon as Friday, the procedure must be started no later than Wednesday, June 1, and be completed no later than Tuesday, June 7, with the final results posted publicly no later than the following day.
Legal fight over undated mail-in ballots
There is one potential snag in all of this, though, according to the New York Post, which involves a legal battle over undated mail-in ballots that were nonetheless certified as received before the end of election day.
Pennsylvania law requires that all mail-in ballots be submitted in an envelope that contains a legible date, but that requirement was recently ruled to be “immaterial” by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals as part of a lawsuit that originated from local judicial elections in the state in 2021.
There are several hundred such ballots for Republicans that McCormick has argued should be counted if those undated ballots had been received before polls closed on election day. Oz, however, backed by both the state GOP and Republican National Committee, has argued conversely that those ballots should be rejected and not included in the final tally.
The Post noted that Chapman said the undated ballots will be counted but will also be kept separate from the rest of the ballots while the ongoing legal issue is sorted out.
10,000 absentee and provisional ballots are still to be counted
Perhaps further complicating things ahead of the recount is the fact that there are still approximately 10,000 outstanding absentee and provisional ballots — many of which are from military members and other Americans living overseas — of unknown partisan breakdown that have yet to be counted, though Chapman said they should all be tallied before the recount begins.
There will be a lot of attention paid to how this particular recount plays out over the coming week, as the eventual winner will go on to face progressive Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic nominee who is still recovering from a sudden stroke he suffered just before the primary election.