Pittsburgh, Pa. – One week after Republican members of the Pennsylvania Senate refused to seat Jim Brewster, a Democratic candidate from Allegheny county, a federal judge ruled that Mr. Brewster's win was legitimate.
Mr. Brewster's Republican challenger, Nicole Ziccarelli (R-Lower Burrell), challenged the election results in court arguing that the counting of a few hundred ballots with defects on their outer envelopments violated due process and equal protections clause. As evidence for the case, Ziccarelli cited that similar ballots were not counted in Westmoreland County.
The ballots were submitted on time and correctly filled out, but lacked printed dates on their declaration envelopes.
U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan denied the complaint, ruling the ballots in question were "valid ballots that properly counted under state law."
Had the ballots been tossed, Ziccarelli would have been declared the winner of the Senatorial race. However, the judge's decision solidifies Brewster's 69-vote win.
Last week, members of the GOP party refused to seat Sen. Brewster, despite the fact that Brewster's win had been certified by state officials. The GOP Senators cited the on-going court case as their reason for the refusal.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf issued a statement on the court's decision today urging Republican Senators to allow Brewster to be sworn in.
“Senate Republicans may not like the outcome of the election, but they cannot overturn the will of the people in western Pennsylvania or ignore court decisions," said Gov. Wolf. "The people’s ballots are counted, and the results are accurate. Refusing to seat Sen. Brewster and leaving the district without a voice would be unethical and undemocratic. The Senate Republicans have no choice. Sen. Brewster must be sworn in.”