Trump campaign plans to sue; GOP’s Fitzpatrick wins 3rd term

A man watches results come in on a screen set up at an election night gathering at Independence Mall , Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Philadelphia.

A man watches results come in on a screen set up at an election night gathering at Independence Mall , Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020, in Philadelphia.


Michael Perez

AP

HARRISBURG, Pa.

The Trump campaign says it’s suing to stop the vote count in Pennsylvania over what it says is a lack of transparency and is seeking to intervene in a Supreme Court case.

Meanwhile, Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick has won a third term in Pennsylvania’s 1st Congressional District in suburban Philadelphia.

Fitzpatrick beat Democrat Christina Finello.

Fitzpatrick is a former FBI agent who succeeded his brother in the seat. He brands himself as independent in the politically divided district.

He was one of just three House Republicans in the entire country running for reelection in a district won by Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016′s presidential contest.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Legal challenges and a mountain of uncounted ballots promised a long watch Wednesday to find out who the people of Pennsylvania chose as president, even as a host of other major races in the state — including for several congressional seats, statewide officers and the Legislature — remained unresolved.

Voters turned out in large numbers for an election that produced few of the glitches some had feared. But the state’s decision to greatly expand mail-in voting means it could still be days before it’s clear whether President Donald Trump repeated his surprise Pennsylvania victory from four years ago or whether native son Joe Biden would collect its 20 electoral votes, the most of any state yet to be called by The Associated Press.

Some of Pennsylvania’s most heavily populated counties, including Philadelphia and suburban counties like Montgomery, Chester, Bucks and Delaware, were tabulating votes around the clock. Allegheny County, where Pittsburgh is located, said it would resume the count at 10 a.m. More than 900,000 mail ballots were left to be counted, according to the latest state data.

Philadelphia showed live video of workers in yellow and orange safety vests preparing ballots to be scanned. City officials counseled patience.

“Counting votes cast by mail, if you’re going to do it right and you’re going to do it accurately — because there’s no other choice — takes a little bit of time. So I know that’s very frustrating,” City Commissioner Al Schmidt said Wednesday, adding that “it’s more important than we do it right than meet artificial deadlines.”

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf sounded a similar note Wednesday, pledging that all votes are “going to be counted accurately and they’re going to be counted fully. … Every Pennsylvanian can have confidence in the outcome of this election.”

Hearings were scheduled Wednesday in two Election Day lawsuits filed by Republicans, both seeking to prevent voters whose mail-in ballots were disqualified for technical reasons from fixing it or casting a new ballot. One is in federal court in Philadelphia, the other is in a statewide appellate court in Harrisburg.

Republicans and a voter filed a federal lawsuit accusing officials in suburban Philadelphia’s Montgomery County of illegally processing 49 mail-in ballots before Tuesday for the purpose of allowing voters to fix problems with their ballots.

Kelly Cofrancisco, a county spokesperson, insisted the state’s highest court has not prohibited counties from allowing voters to fix their ballots.

And in the lawsuit filed Tuesday night in the appellate court, Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly of Pennsylvania and five other plaintiffs asked to block counties from allowing voters whose mail-in ballots were disqualified to be able to cast a vote by provisional ballot.

The state’s top election official, Kathy Boockvar, insisted that the practice singled out by the lawsuit is legal.

The state Supreme Court — citing Postal Service delays, the huge number of people voting by mail because of the pandemic and the strain on county boards of election — ordered counties to count mail-in ballots received as many as three days after the vote, so long as they were mailed by Election Day.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a Republican effort to block the counting of late-arriving mail-in votes, but it could revisit the issue.

Trump has tried to sow doubt about the fairness of the election, saying the only way Democrats could win Pennsylvania is to cheat.

Later in an appearance at the White House, he made premature claims of victory and said he would take the election to the Supreme Court. It was unclear exactly what legal action he might try to pursue.

Scattered voting issues in Pennsylvania included problems with voting machines and tardy poll workers.

A judge ordered a polling place in Scranton, Democrat Biden’s hometown, to remain open an additional 45 minutes because machines had been briefly out of commission earlier in the day.

All of Pennsylvania’s 18 members of Congress sought reelection, and in early results, at least 12 won — Republicans Kelly, John Joyce, Fred Keller, Guy Reschenthaler, Glenn Thompson, Lloyd Smucker and Dan Meuser; and Democrats Mike Doyle, Dwight Evans, Brendan Boyle, Mary Gay Scanlon and Madeleine Dean.

A pair of Democratic incumbents, Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Treasurer Joe Torsella, sought reelection, while Pennsylvanians also voted for a new auditor general to replace term-limited Democrat Eugene DePasquale.

Control of the state House was also at stake. Democrats went into the election needing nine seats to seize the majority from Republicans after a decade out of power, but lost at least one incumbent in early returns. First-term Rep. Wendy Ullman of Bucks County in the Philadelphia suburbs was defeated by Republican Shelby Labs.

Democrats also saw hopes of regaining a state Senate majority become dimmer as Republican Devlin Robinson unseated Democratic Sen. Pam Iovino in a suburban Pittsburgh district.

Lines were long around the state. In chilly Philadelphia, Shavere McLean, 36, bundled up and brought coffee, a chair and snacks as she waited to vote for Biden, saying, “I just want a better leader, someone who cares about everyone.”

In the Delaware River town of Milford, cars honked at Gail Just, 70, as she held a Trump-Pence sign, saying she supports Trump because he “gets things done.”

___

Rubinkam reported from northeastern Pennsylvania. Contributing to this report were Natalie Pompilio in Philadelphia and Associated Press writer Maryclaire Dale in Philadelphia; Marc Levy in Harrisburg; and David Porter in Milford.