A group of Chester County residents became concerned when they checked the results of the 2023 Pennsylvania Primary Election late in the evening of May 16th. Shortly after the in-person and mail-in-ballot totals were posted, the Pennsylvania Election Returns Website showed a series of nearly identical reporting results in Chester, Delaware, Bucks, Montgomery, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Lehigh, and Northampton counties. These results remained on the website from the late evening of May 16th through Friday, May 18th, when provisional ballots were added to the totals. Even then, the overall outcomes did not significantly change.
The residents noticed that multiple Southeastern PA counties had nearly identical win/loss percentages for Democrats and Republicans in all three state races. The public can see the inexplicable similarities in election results through the screenshots taken of the results. A visual presentation is available here.
An analysis of 10 years of previous primary elections in SE PA showed that county percentage matching did occur, but there were differences. In previous elections, only one party had nearly identical numbers at times. You did not see both the Democratic and Republican races both having county matches for a state race. Additionally, you did not see all three state races affected by this two-party anomaly. You also did not see instances of both Democratic and Republican scores for one county matching both scores in other counties, like what is seen in Chester and Delaware, and Lehigh and Northampton counties. While the observation of matching scores historically alone urges the need for further review, what has happened in 2023 demands that investigation be done.
For the PA Supreme Court race, both Chester and Delaware Counties had nearly identical reporting results in both their Democratic and Republican races. A summary shows the Democratic winner in both counties achieving 83% of the vote (McCaffery) and the challenger receiving 16% of the vote (Kunselman). The Republican winner in both counties achieved 76 and 77% of the vote (Carluccio), while her challenger received 22 and 23% (McCullough). Montgomery and Philadelphia counties had nearly identical percentages for the Democratic Supreme Court race, with McCaffery having 80% of the vote and Kunselman having 20%. Chester and Bucks Counties for the Republican Supreme Court showed Carluccio having 76% of the vote and McCullough having 23%. Lancaster and Philadelphia counties had the same Republican percentages, with Carluccio having 62% and McCullough having 37%.
For the PA Superior Court race, the nearly identical reporting for both the Democratic and Republican races also occurred in Lehigh and Northampton counties. What is more surprising is the Democratic party had three candidates on the ballot, yet they all received about the same percentages. The leader, Tamika Lane, received 38% of the vote in both counties. Runner-up Jill Beck received 32% in both counties, and challenger Patrick Dugan received 28 and 29%. Republican Candidate Maria Batista received 52% in both counties, while challenger Harry Smail received 47%. Tamika Lane also was the frontrunner in Chester, Delaware, and Montgomery Counties, with the same voter percentage of 45% across all three counties despite different turnout numbers. Her challengers, Jill Beck and Patrick Dugan, had different percentages across the three counties. The Republican Superior Court race was nearly identical across Chester, Bucks, and Montgomery Counties, with Batista having 51% and Smail having 48% in the three counties. Delaware County Republican results also showed similar results, with Batista having 52% and Smail having 47%.
For the Commonwealth Court race, Chester and Delaware Counties again showed almost identical Democratic scores, with frontrunner Matthew Wolf receiving nearly 90% of the votes in both counties. In comparison, challenger Bryan Neft received nearly 10%. Montgomery and Bucks counties also had similar numbers for the Democratic race, with Wolf receiving 80% of the vote and Neft receiving 20%. The pattern of near identical outcomes occurred in the Republican race, with Candidate Megan Martin receiving 68% and Josh Prince receiving 31% in Delaware and Lancaster counties. Bucks and Chester Counties also had similar results, with Prince having 33% and 32% while Martin had 66 and 67%.
One last percentage reporting of note was that the Republican Supreme Court candidates Carluccio and McCullough's win/loss percentages for Montgomery County were the same percentages that the Democratic Supreme Court Candidates had in Chester and Bucks Counties, with the winners all having 83% of the vote and their challengers all having 16% of the vote. The same percentages found for Democratic and Republican candidates in the Supreme Court race is particularly odd.
Having very similar percentages in multiple counties, each with different numbers of voter turnout, makes these numbers difficult to understand. Each score had a slight variance, but all matching numbers were mostly within a one percentage point difference. Residents noted the ratio of voters who voted by mail verses who voted in person make similar results unlikely as in-person voters can be influenced by campaign volunteers working the polls and voters who cast their ballots by mail are not impacted by poll workers. Also, many primary campaigns were not supported by outside ad buys, text campaigns, social media campaigns, etc. across multiple counties. There was very little media coverage of these campaigns and races, making direct contact the single biggest factor in developing awareness and support for the candidates who were not endorsed. Exposure to voters was dependent on local interaction at public events which were not occurring uniformly across PA counties. Votes could have been dramatically affected by poll workers who were thinly spread across thousands of precincts, often with no coordination by the campaigns but rather were motivated individuals who acted on their own initiative. The physical size of the counties and the size of their populations makes it much harder for non-endorsed candidates to reach consistent numbers of voters in the large southeastern counties, which makes it less likely results would be similar.
Even if people across the counties were simply voting their sample ballots, the fact alone that all these counties had different voter turnout and registered voter numbers yet achieved multiple matching percentage results is cause for bipartisan investigation. Voter Confidence in PA elections has been declining across the state, and these difficult to believe numbers only add to the confusion and debate of the issue of voting machines being able to be manipulated by outside sources. With the lack of action in addressing election integrity issues from both parties in the PA state legislature, residents can’t help but wonder if something is going on with their primary elections.
Ultimately, the question remains: Is this natural? It is time for PA residents to find out. The outcomes of multiple races appear to be greatly affected by the Southeast PA counties’ results. Before this election is certified June 1st, a simple remedy to help ensure election integrity is to do a check to ensure these percentages are accurate. One way this can be done is to ask to inspect the mail-in ballots. Candidates and the public are legally entitled (Act 77, Section 1309) to inspect the outer mail-in ballot envelopes and ensure that they match the number of mail-in ballots cast in each SE county. A review of the envelopes will not identify how the people voted, but it will provide assurance of the total number of ballots. Given the strange win/loss percentages we see for statewide races, why not have a bipartisan effort to be certain that the numbers posted on the election returns website match what was counted? This is a great opportunity for Democrats and Republicans to work together to ensure free and fair elections.
Up-to-date Primary Election results can be seen at https://www.electionreturns.pa.gov/Home/SummaryResults.