WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Tuesday, Nov. 29, U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) filed a lawsuit against the Luzerne County Board of Elections challenging the board’s failure to certify the Nov. 8, 2022 election results. On Nov. 28 — the statutory deadline for Pennsylvania counties to certify their midterm election results — the Luzerne County Board of Elections didn’t certify the county’s results as two members voted to certify, two members voted against certification and one member abstained, leaving the board deadlocked. Notably, the member who abstained did so because he wanted to know “what happens if the vote is not certified.” The plaintiff requests a writ of mandamus (a court order compelling a party to take a certain action) requiring the board to certify the results of the 2022 midterm elections.
According to the complaint, “[n]one of the Board members provided any legal citation or justification for failing to certify the election.” The plaintiff alleges that the board “already violated its statutory duty to certify the election by the third Monday following election day and will continue to do so absent this Court’s intervention.” The plaintiff argues that under Pennsylvania law “county boards are required to certify the election results they receive from their election districts after these results have been computed and canvassed” and “certification of election results by a county board of elections is a ministerial act—one which the board is required to perform and has no discretion to refuse,” as Luzerne County did here.
Remarkably, this is not the first time counties have refused to certify election results in Pennsylvania. Over the summer, three counties (Berks, Fayette and Lancaster) were sued over their refusal to include valid undated mail-in ballots in election certification totals for the 2022 primary election. This lawsuit ultimately resulted in the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ordering the counties to include the mail-in ballots at issue and properly certify. These instances of counties refusing to perform their mandatory duties is part of a larger Republican-led effort to politicize these tasks in an attempt to subvert elections and instill doubt in our electoral process.