Pa. House candidate, 18 votes ahead, takes ballot fight to court

The Democratic challenger who is 18 votes ahead of the Republican incumbent in the race for a state House seat in Chester County has a court date Thursday to press her case that 15 provisional ballots thrown out by county officials last week should count.

West Chester Mayor Carolyn Comitta said that even though the election results currently are in her favor, her appeal to Chester County Court was a move "to make sure every valid ballot is counted.

"And we believe these remaining 15 ballots are valid," she said.

Comitta's attorney, Samuel Stretton, filed the appeal Wednesday. Her opponent, three-term incumbent State Rep. Dan Truitt, has not filed a similar appeal but has said he is open to pursuing a recount.

With a potential recount and a court proceeding over the provisional ballots, it could be weeks before the county declares a winner in the 156th District.

The county Board of Elections, which consists of the county's three commissioners, said last week that the county Department of Voter Services had received 14 of the voters' registration applications after the deadline.

Comitta argued in her appeal the applications should be considered as having arrived on time because the Department of State received them before the Oct. 11 application deadline. The department then sent the applications to the county Department of Voter Services.

"The county commissioners denied counting the above provisional ballots despite the request of the Department of State that these were validly registered, since they were received timely by the Department of State," the appeal says. "The county commissioners erred."

The 15th provisional ballot that is subject to Comitta's appeal involves a woman who registered to vote in Montgomery County and then registered to vote in Chester County. Her registration in Montgomery County was delayed in processing and then superseded the Chester County registration, which "was not the intent of the voter," the appeal said.

Therefore, on Election Day, the woman officially was registered to vote in Montgomery County but not in Chester County, according to the Department of Voter Services.

Comitta said the court should count the woman's ballot because she intended to vote in Chester County.

mbond@philly.com

610-313-8207 @MichaelleBond

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