District 18 special election: Still too close to call

Democrats are calling it, but Saccone won’t concede.

From left to right: Lamb, Miller and Saccone.

From left to right: Lamb, Miller and Saccone.


Update: 3 p.m. March 14

Though the District 18 race remained neck and neck early Wednesday morning — with hundreds of absentee ballots still being counted in Washington County — Conor Lamb delivered an impassioned early morning victory speech to supporters.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, the Pa. Department of State tallied 113,111 for Lamb and 112,532 for Saccone. Libertarian Drew Miller received 1,351 votes.

Lamb’s 579 vote lead came after counting absentee ballots in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.

Washington’s 1,195 absentee ballots would be scanned tonight and then hand-counted, which Larry Spahr, Washington Co. director of elections, told CNN would take several hours.

At Conor Lamb’s Cecil Township party, he was announced as congressman-elect around 12:45 a.m. before giving a rousing speech and thanking union workers.

“I’m a Pennsylvania Democrat. A proud western Pennsylvania Democrat. This is the party of my grandfather,” he said.

The statewide party also claimed victory in a press release, with Chairman Jack Hanna saying, “With a great candidate, an effective campaign, and an electorate that is ready for a new direction, Democrats prevailed in a district that Donald Trump won by 20 points. Let it be known that the Blue Wave of 2018 began in Pennsylvania with Conor’s victory. And this is only the beginning of the wave.”

Meanwhile, Saccone’s camp refused to concede. He addressed the crowd at his Elizabeth Township party just before midnight, thanking them for their support: “It’s not over yet. We’re still fighting the fight.” He left the building by 1 a.m.

The Associated Press said it would not declare a winner tonight.

Original post:

Today, voters in Pennsylvania’s 18th congressional district will head to the polls in a much-touted special election to replace former congressman Tim Murphy, who resigned last year amid scandal.

The results are certain to be highly scrutinized, with both parties certain of their larger significance headed into the 2018 midterms.

District 18 voters will have three candidates to choose from on the ballot: Democrat Conor Lamb, Republican Rick Saccone and Libertarian Drew Miller.

For residents of the 18th, ballots will look like this:

Sample ballot district 18 special election

A breakdown of their policy positions can be found here in our Procrastinator’s Guide to Pennsylvania’s 18th Congressional District special election.

As of Monday, Lamb had a slight lead over Saccone in what is a reliably red district and despite the best efforts of Republicans — including Donald Trump — to galvanize the base there. Trump won District 18 handily in the last presidential election, but it’s unclear if his support will carry over when the polls open at 7 today. Polls will remain open until 8 p.m.

If you’re unsure whether you’re a resident of the 18th, you can confirm that and find your polling place here.

The Department of State will update election results here after the polls close at 8 p.m.

We’ll also have live updates throughout the day from our reporters in the field. You can follow along here or at @theinclinepgh on Twitter.

We also want to hear from you. Tell us what you’re seeing at and around the polls by sending a photo from your polling place to [email protected], tweeting @TheInclinePgh or tagging us on Instagram, #TheInclinePgh.

8:50 a.m.

There was some confusion over the district boundaries this morning, as voters who are not part of District 18 showed up to vote, Allegheny County officials reported.

  • Sewickley: Voters arrived at their polling place to find it wasn’t open … because Sewickley is not in District 18, per the county.
  • Monroeville: “Voters in Monroeville arrived at their polling place, but were turned away,” county spokeswoman Amie Downs said. “Several wards in Monroeville are split between Congressional districts.” Monroeville residents eligible to vote today live in Ward 2, Districts 1 and 3; Ward 3, District 2; Ward 4, Districts 1 and 2; and Ward 5, District 3.

10 a.m.

Rick Saccone casts his ballot — and is mobbed by reporters.

12 p.m.

Conor Lamb escorts his grandmother, Barbara, to the polls.

1 p.m.

The Allegheny County Elections Division says calls continue to come in from voters “who are not in the 18th district, but either believe they are or are still expecting to vote,” adding, “We understand that similar calls are being received in neighboring counties as well.”

The Elections Division reported two calls related to machine issues (low backup battery, a blank screen) and says both were immediately addressed by Elections rovers or technicians.

“These types of calls are typical and received each election,” a press release from the county explained. “Neither impacted voting at the locations.”

2 p.m.

The weather takes a (brief) turn for the worse.

2:50 p.m.

The confusion continues.

Voters are calling the Allegheny County Elections Division to ask what district they are in or to say they’re upset because they can’t vote, per an email from Downs. Adding to the confusion, “many polling places which are not in the district have posted signs which are not accurate, or confusing, causing other calls,” she wrote.

Another caller reported that the handicapped accessible entrance at a polling place in Robinson was blocked. Downs said an accessible entrance was 20 feet away that could and has been used. Signs were added to make it more clear.

4:50 p.m.

Residents are still flooding Allegheny County officials with phone calls “regarding why they can’t vote, not understanding which congressional district they’re currently in, or why their polling place is not open,” Downs said.

The short answer: You can vote only if you live in District 18.

Here’s how to find out if you live in District 18 and, if so, where to vote. This is what District 18 looks like:

This is the map in play for today's special election. Note District 18 in the bottom left corner — it's the green one that covers a portion of Allegheny, Greene, Washington, and Westmoreland Counties.

This is the map in play for today's special election. Note District 18 in the bottom left corner — it's the green one that covers a portion of Allegheny, Greene, Washington, and Westmoreland Counties.

Pennsylvania Department of State

Despite all of the confusion, a lot of people who actually are eligible to vote did indeed go to the polls in Allegheny County, where turnout is expected to exceed 30 percent, per Downs.

In other news, a poll worker in Pleasant Hills 8 got sick, and a replacement worker was sent in to fill that seat.

6 p.m.

At Dr. Cleveland Steward Elementary in Monroeville, “poll workers are reporting that a few hundred voters have not been permitted to vote,” because they were not residents of the 18th Congressional District, per the county.

The elementary school is a polling location for Monroeville’s 1-3, 1-4 and 5-3 during primary and general elections, though only 5-3 is in the 18th Congressional District.

Voters unable to cast a ballot included those in 1-3 and 1-4, as well as Pitcairn and Plum voters incorrectly sent to this location.

“If there is any question about a person’s eligibility to vote in the 18th Congressional Special Election, poll workers can provide options to the voter so that their vote is counted if they are a voter in that district,” Downs said.

8 p.m.

Polls are now closed. Anybody who is in line will be allowed to vote, per Allegheny County officials.

Now, poll workers will open and count absentee ballots, close the machines, print tapes and post a copy of the results.

Follow the Pa. Department of State’s website for results here.

2:30 p.m., March 14

Pa. District 18 results still aren’t official.

Here’s what’s outstanding in Allegheny County:

  • 128 provisional ballots need to be examined.
  • 99 military/overseas ballots were issued.
  • 112 absentee ballots were unscannable.

That process won’t begin until Friday, and it is expected to take “multiple days” (business days only), per Allegheny County. The elections board is scheduled to meet on Monday, April 2 to certify the official results.

First, each provisional ballot will be reviewed to determine if the vote should be counted, based on voter registration records, whether the voter cast a ballot at another location, etc. Each party can designate up to three observers who can watch the process and object. If an objection is raised, the voter in question will be notified and a hearing will be held.

In addition, about 112 absentee ballots were not scanned because they were folded, stuck to another ballot, etc. This number includes military and overseas ballots that were returned but are not scannable.

After those counts are complete, officials will compare the number of voters in the poll books to the number of voters reflected in the machine counters. If anything is amiss, the elections returns board will review. In addition, they’ll compare the number of absentee ballots from each polling place with the number of ballots scanned.

Finally, after that process is complete, parties have five days to file any court challenges about the election.

This process accounts only for the ballots in Allegheny County, not in the rest of the district, which comprises parts of Greene, Washington and Westmoreland County.