Pennsylvania’s Luzerne County certifies election after being sued

The elections board in Luzerne County, Pa., certified their vote canvass on Wednesday after being sued for missing a state deadline earlier in the week.

Board members on Monday had voted to defy the state certification deadline in a 2-2 vote, with one abstention, after polling places in the county experienced paper shortages on Election Day. 

But after progressive elections firm Elias Law Group sued the county on behalf of Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) on Tuesday, the Democratic member who previously abstained voted to certify at Wednesday’s meeting, paving the way for passage.

The board’s two Republicans voted against certification again on Wednesday, continuing to seize on the paper shortage and arguing it amounted to a failed election process. 

On Election Day, a judge extended voting by two hours in the county after election workers discovered the issues. It’s unclear how many voters were affected.

The issues made Luzerne County one of multiple jurisdictions in battleground states this year to delay certification, a step that generally received little attention before the 2020 election.

But former President Trump and his allies’ promotion of unfounded claims of mass electoral fraud have placed a renewed focus on the county meetings, leading residents to show up in Luzerne County and elsewhere to contest election results.

Dozens of Luzerne County residents spoke at Monday and Wednesday’s meetings about the paper shortage and other allegations of voter disenfranchisement, sometimes interrupting board members. 

At one point on Monday, an attendee shouted “liar” at a Democratic board member after they vowed to certify Luzerne’s vote canvass.

Legal challenges have also mounted in Cochise County, Ariz., the state’s only jurisdiction to not certify the election by Arizona’s statutory deadline.

Board members there withheld certification after hearing a conspiracy theory that the county’s vote machines were improperly certified. The U.S. Elections Assistance Commission, which manages vote machine certification, and state elections officials have refuted those claims.

Elias Law Group also sued that county’s board in state court, and a hearing is scheduled for Thursday. Cochise’s board voted to hire outside counsel after the county attorney declined to defend the decision, saying he believes it was illegal.

“We sued, they certified. Your turn Cochise County,” Marc Elias, who leads the firm, wrote on Twitter in response to Luzerne’s decision.