This story will be updated.

Allegheny County’s elections board voted Monday to partially certify results from the Nov. 8 midterm elections, choosing not to give the final nod to the less than 1% of county precincts currently subject to recount petitions still pending in court.

The elections board — composed of County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and the two at-large County Council members, Sam DeMarco III and Bethany Hallam — voted unanimously to certify results from 1,311 of the county’s 1,323 election precincts.

The remaining 12 precincts are subject to recount petitions filed by local residents, part of a wave of election denial groups across Pennsylvania sending in large numbers of such petitions seeking hand recounts of election results. But a county lawyer said the petitions were “defective” in multiple ways and has filed motions to dismiss them.

Allan Opsitnick, an assistant county solicitor, said none of the petitions included the $50 bond required under state law. He added that since the complaints described in the petitions were “boilerplate,” and the races objected to by the petitions include governor and U.S. Senate, state law required similar petitions to have been filed in every precinct where those races were on the ballot: all of 1,323 them.

“I think it’s legally proper, and the law department believes it’s legally proper, for you to proceed and certify the results,” he said.

In this image made from a Facebook livestream, at-large County Council members Bethany Hallam and Sam DeMarco III speak behind County Executive Rich Fitzgerald during Monday morning’s elections board meeting. (Allegheny County)

Fitzgerald, who at one point threatened to throw jeering audience members out of the elections board meeting, urged the board to follow the county law department’s advice and certify all election results. But Hallam and DeMarco, who had a brief aside during the meeting, appeared more reticent. His motion to certify the 12 precincts failed.

Ellen Lyons, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Department of State, said the department is aware of recount petitions filed in multiple counties across the state. She said counties are required under state law to certify election results by the end of the day Monday, and counties may only withhold certification if one or more recount petitions are properly filed and legally valid.

Lyons said the department is reviewing the documents sent by Allegheny County, and then will decide next steps.

Several other topics were discussed during the elections board meeting.

Hallam said she was interested in the county creating a competition, similar to one in New York’s Ulster County, where local residents can design a custom “I Voted” sticker to create more enthusiasm around voting. Fitzgerald suggested that County Council work on the issue.

After about a dozen precincts didn’t report results on Election Day, due to poll workers not properly ejecting USB drives from ballot scanners, DeMarco asked whether anything could be done to prevent similar situations from happening in the future. He suggested someone from the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Office could be dispatched to retrieve the drives.

David Voye, the elections division manager, said this has been tried in the past and noted it can be difficult to get back into polling places at night once workers have already left and closed the doors behind them. He said the county will traditionally return the next day for the equipment.

Fitzgerald congratulated election workers on their hard work, including that results from mail ballots were quickly released on Election Day to the public. He also commended voters for showing up in droves to exercise their right to vote, nodding to the high turnout seen in the county.

Jon, a copy editor and reporter at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, is currently on strike and working as a co-editor of the Pittsburgh Union Progress. Reach him at

Jon Moss

Jon, a copy editor and reporter at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, is currently on strike and working as a co-editor of the Pittsburgh Union Progress. Reach him at