Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman predicted Monday that his Republican rival Dr. Mehmet Oz will take an early lead in their contest as returns come in on Election Day.
However, he said that a “dramatic” change would happen overnight as more ballots are processed.
“Counting for ballots cast by mail and early in-person cannot begin until Election Day, thanks to the GOP-controlled legislature — an intentional move to help Republicans baselessly sow doubt about the election results when it suits them,” Fetterman wrote in a memo to “interested parties,” The Washington Post reported.
“Pennsylvania is one of only eight states that bans pre-processing of early mail-in ballots, forcing county officials to wait until 7 a.m. on Tuesday to begin opening returned ballots and scanning them into the system,” he added.
The journalistic consortium Spotlight PA reported that roughly 70 percent of the mail-in ballot requests came from registered Democrats.
“The biggest share of absentee and mail ballot requests came from Allegheny County [which includes Pittsburgh] and Philadelphia — nearly a quarter of the total,” according to Spotlight.
Both are Democratic strongholds in the Keystone State.
Counties near Philadelphia — Bucks, Montgomery, and Northampton — requested the next largest shares. All three went for President Joe Biden in 2020.
“Because Pennsylvania is one of the only states that reports Election Day totals first before ballots cast by mail, and because more populated counties around Philadelphia can take longer to report, we should expect one of the most dramatic shifts in the country from initial GOP support in early results to stronger Democratic gains as more votes are processed,” Fetterman said.
Counties representatives from Allegheny, Montgomery, and Philadelphia counties told Spotlight they expect ballot counting to be finished by Wednesday, the day after the election.
A Bucks County representative estimated a Wednesday or Thursday completion.
Meanwhile, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported last week most counties should be done counting by early Wednesday.
If so, that would be quicker than 2020, when news organizations could not declare a winner in the presidential race until the Saturday following the election.
The Inquirer explained the delay caused by absentee ballot processing.
Starting at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, “Elections workers have to check the mailing envelopes to make sure requirements are met, such as ensuring voters signed them,” the Inquirer reported.
“Workers open the mailing envelopes and remove the ballots, which are inside second ‘secrecy’ envelopes. Then they open that second envelope and remove the ballots, unfold them, flatten them, and, finally, run them through high-speed scanners that read and count them,” the news outlet added.
So there were about twice as many mail-in ballots to process in 2020 than in the current election cycle.
Absentee ballots played a decisive role in Biden’s victory in Pennsylvania.
Then-President Donald Trump’s 600,000-vote lead in the state the morning after the election dwindled and eventually disappeared in the following days as absentee votes continued to be counted.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.