Winner of DePasquale vs. Brier might not be known for days

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch
Voters exit Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church after voting in the Primary Election in York Township, Tuesday, June 2, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

It was impossible to say Wednesday who won the Democratic primary for Pennsylvania's 10th Congressional District because so many mail-in ballots remained uncounted throughout the district's three-county area.

State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale ran Tuesday against Derry Township author and attorney Tom Brier in the race to challenge U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Carroll Township, in the Nov. 3 general election.

The district represents portions of York, Dauphin and Cumberland counties in Congress.

"In terms of the results, I think this really matches, in many ways, what we had hoped for," Brier said Wednesday, referring to the preliminary vote tallies.

Brier said his campaign hoped to end up with a 2-to-1 advantage over DePasquale in Dauphin County and a victory in Cumberland County. 

Based on the results from in-person voting, Brier met this goal in Dauphin County with 7,314 votes compared with DePasquale's 3,769 votes, and in Cumberland County with 2,845 votes, a slight edge over DePasquale's 2,793 votes.

In York County, where nearly 40,000 mail-in ballots — both Republican and Democrat — were already counted Wednesday and added to the preliminary results, DePasquale dominated, with 17,316 votes compared with Brier's 4,024 votes.

Overall, DePasquale held a lead of about 9,700 votes as of Wednesday, with thousands of ballots still uncounted.

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Author and attorney Tom Brier of Hershey is challenging Eugene DePasquale for the chance to face Republican Congressman Scott Perry for the 10th District seat. 
Monday, July 22, 2019 
John A. Pavoncello photo

"There are thousands of ballots left to be counted, but it’s clear that there is real momentum behind this campaign and our vision for South Central Pennsylvania," DePasquale said in a statement released by his campaign.

This was the first election after Act 77, an election reform bill signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf in 2019, took effect across Pennsylvania. The law allows for no-excuse mail-in voting for any registered voter.

York County processed more than 54,000 mail-in ballot requests, meaning as many as 14,000 voters may have cast provisional ballots at the polls either because they didn't receive their ballot in time for the election or simply chose to vote in person instead.

Provisional ballots will be counted later this week and early next week, said York County Commissioner Julie Wheeler.

The candidates will likely have to wait until next week for the final results, as Wolf extended the deadline to June 9 for voters in six counties to return their mail-in ballots, postmarked no later than June 2, to local election departments.

Dauphin County is one of the six.

Wolf cited the unprecedented surge in mail-in ballot applications, the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing civil unrest for his decision.

Dauphin County election officials processed nearly 40,000 applications for mail-in ballots for the primary. Election officials could not be reached Wednesday to provide clarity about whether any of the votes included in the preliminary results were from mail-in ballots.

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State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale talks with the media during his visit at York Hospital Wednesday, June 12, 2019. Bill Kalina photo

And in Cumberland County, as many as 31,700 mail-in ballots and another 5,500 provisional ballots remained uncounted Wednesday.

Brier said his campaign focused heavily on mail-in voting beginning in February, and he said he's hopeful the remaining results in Dauphin and Cumberland counties will reflect that.

Vice President Joe Biden, already the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, handily won the support of York County Democrats on Tuesday with 26,529 votes compared with Sen. Bernie Sanders' 5,792 votes and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard's 1,018 votes.

In the race to nominate a Democratic challenger in Pennsylvania's 11th Congressional District, candidate Sarah Hammond held a significant lead over her opponent, Paul Daigle, according to preliminary results.

In York County, Hammond had 8,546 votes compared with Daigle's 2,998 votes, and in Lancaster County she had 7,075 votes compared with Daigle's 1,905 votes.

Hammond will face U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker, R-Lancaster, in the Nov. 3 general election if that lead holds.

Lancaster County processed more than 63,000 applications for mail-in ballots ahead of the primary, according to the Pennsylvania Department of State. It was unclear Wednesday if any of them had been tallied in the preliminary vote totals.

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