Nov. 22—The Berks County Republican Committee and 94 voters are seeking a recount of ballots cast during the general election at 30 precincts across the county.
Two petitions were filed in county court Monday afternoon, one seeking a recount at three precincts and the other asking for a recount at 27 precincts. The petitions were filed by the committee after receiving complaints from some voters that voting machines were changing votes cast for Republican candidates for governor and U.S. Senate to ones for the Democratic candidates.
The petitions were filed during a five-day window to challenge election results that began when the Berks County Board of Elections completed a final count on Nov. 16. A hearing for the petitions has not yet been set.
County officials said Tuesday that they plan to file a response to the petitions, but said they have no further comment at this time because this is ongoing litigation.
Stephanie Weaver, county public relations officer, said the petitions will delay the county's ability to certify the results as planned on Nov. 28. She said they have notified the Pennsylvania Department of State.
In a statement issued last week county officials said they have found no evidence that votes were being switched by the machines and that any complaints of vote switching were the result of user error.
Officials from the Republican committee tell a different story.
"Numerous voters complained to us — and continue to complain to us each day — that these electronic voting machines were switching their choices from Republican to Democrat for the offices of U.S. Senate and governor," Berks County Republican Committee Chairman Clay Breece said in a statement posted on the committee's website about the petitions.
Breece's statement says the petitions — jointly funded by the Republican Committee and the Pennsylvania Liberty Fund, a political action committee that is connected with the Pennsylvania Liberty Alliance — are not meant as a claim that overall results of the election are wrong.
"We want to make this expressly clear: No one is alleging the 2022 election is stolen," his statement says. "A recount is only an investigation."
According to the petitions, the committee is requesting:
—A manual recount of all paper ballots generated by the voting machines, as well as all mailed, absentee and provisional ballots. They also want the county to give its attorney the names of voters who cast their ballots on the machines on Election Day, through the mail and by provisional ballot.
—They also want the county to make all voting equipment, including the voting machines, available for inspection and testing by a "duly authorized representative."
Pennsylvania Liberty Fund President Ron Boltz is quoted in the statement about the petitions as saying he does not believe there should be any resistance to the idea of conducting manual recounts.
"If everyone believes in free, fair and accurate elections, then there shouldn't be any threat from a recount," he said in the statement.
The statement goes on to share what it says are stories from several voters who claim their votes were switched by voting machines. It also contains a claim from a voter who says the ballot tabulator never registered her vote when she scanned her ballot.
It also takes issue with the county's initial response to claims of vote switching.
"Let me get this straight, the county appears to be saying that everyone who had a different experience is a liar, and before any recount petition was filed," Breece says in the statement. "This is not how government is supposed to serve its constituents."
Breece goes on to indicate he believes that electronic voting should be eliminated in the county.
Precincts where a recount is requested:
—Bern Township Precinct 1
—Centre Township Precinct 1
—Cumru Township Precinct 2
—Earl Township Precinct 2
—Exeter Township Precinct 3
—Exeter Township Precinct 6
—Exeter Township Precinct 8
—Greenwich Township Precinct 1
—Hamburg Precinct 2
—Kutztown Ward 1
—Kutztown Ward 2
—Lower Heidelberg Township Precinct No. 1
—Lower Heidelberg Township Precinct No. 2
—Lower Heidelberg Township Precinct No. 3
—Maidencreek Township Precinct No. 3
—Maxatawny Township Precinct No. 3
—North Heidelberg Township
—Reading Precinct 16-5
—Rockland Township Precinct 2
—Ruscombmanor Township Precinct 1
—Ruscombmanor Township Precinct 2
—Spring Township Precinct 7
—Washington Township Precinct 2
—Wyomissing Precinct 2