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Pennsylvania county certifies midterm election results, ending impasse

<i>Aimee Dilger/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images</i><br/>Stacks of ballot paper are seen at the Luzerne County Bureau of Elections in Wilkes-Barre
SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett
Aimee Dilger/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images
Stacks of ballot paper are seen at the Luzerne County Bureau of Elections in Wilkes-Barre

By Fredreka Schouten, CNN

A county in Northeastern Pennsylvania, where paper shortages caused Election Day ballot problems, signed off Wednesday on its midterm results — ending a brief showdown over certifying the election results in a key battleground state.

The Board of Elections and Registration in Luzerne County voted 3-2 to certify the election results, following a tense public meeting.

Earlier this week, the board had deadlocked, with two Republicans voting “no,” two Democrats voting to certify and a fifth member, Democrat Daniel Schramm, abstaining.

Schramm voted “yes” during Wednesday’s special meeting, saying he had investigated voters’ complaints about the election and found little evidence of problems that would have changed the results.

“I found a lot of complaining about things, but no substantial proof,” he told CNN before Wednesday’s vote.

“I do regret all the publicity,” Schramm added. “But I wanted to make sure things were done right.”

He said he still wants to learn more about the paper shortages that prompted a judge to extend voting hours on November 8. The local district attorney is also investigating the shortage.

During the public comment period before the vote, several residents sharply criticized election officials and the board, calling Election Day voting in the county a “mess” and a “disaster.”

“To run out of paper?” one man said. “It’s like baking a cake without flour.”

Luzerne, which includes Wilkes-Barre, is one of two counties in the national spotlight after local authorities failed to certify results by Monday’s legal deadline in their respective states.

In Arizona, two lawsuits — including one from Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the governor-elect — have been brought against rural Cochise County after the Republicans who control the county’s board of supervisors refused to sign off on the midterm results, citing concerns about vote-tallying machines.

Hobbs’ office has argued that Republicans are advancing debunked conspiracy theories about the machines. She has warned that their actions risk disenfranchising some 47,000 voters if she’s forced to sign off on statewide results in early December without the Cochise County votes.

A court hearing on the Cochise impasse is set for Thursday afternoon.

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