Donald Trump

Pennsylvania Won't Need a Recount to Certify Biden Victory, State Says

Joe Biden's margin over Donald Trump in Pennsylvania is larger than the 0.5% that would trigger a recount.

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President-elect Joe Biden and other statewide election winners in Pennsylvania are all past the margin that would trigger a recount, Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar said in a news statement Friday. A recount is mandatory if the result of the election was within a 0.5% difference between candidates.

The latest Pennsylvania results show Biden beating President Donald Trump by more than 59,000 votes, a margin of more than 0.8%.

Early, incomplete returns on election night - which were mostly based on in-person votes - showed Trump leading in Pennsylvania. But the lead chipped away as more mail-in ballots were counted, and eventually Biden pulled ahead. NBC News projected Biden as the winner in Pennsylvania on Nov. 7.

The State department said Friday that Boockvar was ruling out the recount because "no statewide candidate was defeated by one-half of one percent or less of the votes cast."

Boockvar made the call 5 days before Nov. 18, the last day she could have ordered a recount under state law.

Elections workers are still working through the 100,000 provisional ballots cast on Election Day. There was a high number of provisional ballots this year, which the state attributes to election reform bills passed with bipartisan support in 2019 and 2020.

About 40,000 provisional ballots have been counted or partially counted. Provisional ballots take longer to process, because the election boards need to verify that they meet certain standards before they can be counted:

  • The county election boards must verify each voter was registered for the precinct where the ballot was cast
  • Elections workers also need to check that the voter did not cast a mail-in ballot prior to requesting their provisional ballot

Elections workers are also counting the 28,529 military and overseas absentee ballots, which are permitted to arrive as late as Nov. 10.

In this election, because of mail delays due to the coronavirus pandemic, Pennsylvania allowed counties to count mail ballots received by 5 p.m. Nov. 6 - if they were postmarked by 8 p.m. Election Day. About 10,000 ballots were impacted this way, the state department says.

"These ballots are not of a sufficient number to impact the no-recount determination of any of the statewide races," according to the statement.

The slight leeway for those mailed ballots spurred a series of dubious claims about election integrity, which have persisted online for weeks.

Far more registered Democrats requested mail ballots than Republicans for this election, in part due to Trump publicly and repeatedly urging supporters to vote in person, not by mail.

Trump and surrogates have claimed, without evidence, that there was widespread fraud in the election. Numerous claims have been flagged with warning labels on social media for being misleading, and disputed by both Republican and Democratic officials who oversee elections.

Trump's legal team is continuing with lawsuits over the vote count and how close poll watchers were able to stand to elections workers, among other things. You can read more about the lawsuits here. Experts say none of the suits, if successful, would have an impact large enough to overturn the result.

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