It took Lebanon County President Judge John Tylwalk less than 20 minutes to dismiss all five recount petitions filed by Nov. 8 election deniers, after learning that eight of the 15 people alleging vote counting fraud failed to show up in his courtroom Thursday afternoon.

Three residents each in five county election precincts filed challenges to the Nov. 8 election count in the races for governor and U.S. Senate, alleging “fraud or error … in the computation of votes cast, or in the marking of ballots, or otherwise in connection with said ballots for the General Election for the offices of Governor/Lieutenant Governor and United States Senate _ of Pennsylvania.”

The 15 petitioners had asked the court to order a hand recount of all ballots cast in the two races in the South Lebanon South, North Lebanon East, Palmyra East, Palmyra North, and North Londonderry West precincts.

The Pennsylvania law relied on by the petitioners requires at least three registered electors in any challenged precinct in order to demand a hand recount.

Before about 30 observers, including all three Lebanon County Commissioners, Tylwalk called the five cases, one-by-one, and asked whether each precinct’s three petitioners were present and ready to present evidence of fraud.

Only seven were.

Petitioners Bea McComas-Jones, Michelle Wilson, Frances Luckenbill, Todd Gotshall, Jessica Barnes, Russell Hower, Lucille Behrendt, and Holly Caudill were not present.

Not a single petitioner from Palmyra East and Palmyra North was in the courtroom.

Since none of the five challenged precincts had the required three petitioners present, Tylwalk said he would issue an order throwing out all five recount requests.

Tylwalk noted that he had issued a court order requiring all 15 petitioners to be present. He said the order had been mailed to all of them at their registered address, and that none had been returned undelivered.

In addition to the missing petitioners, county solicitor David Warner told Tylwalk that one of those present, Barry Carbaugh, was registered to vote in Franklin County, not Lebanon, on Nov. 8, rendering him ineligible to request a recount.

Speaking after the hearing, Warner said he did not believe the county was inclined to ask Tylwalk to order the petitioners to pay the county’s attorney fees or costs in defending the recount petitions, despite the no-shows and failure to present evidence of fraud.

According to multiple media reports, nearly identical recount petitions have been filed in at least 25 Pennsylvania counties by supporters of defeated gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano in an attempt to delay certification of election results.

Sean Drasher, director of the county’s Bureau of Elections, said the five petitions dismissed by Tylwalk yesterday had not delayed the certification of Lebanon County’s results.

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Chris Coyle writes primarily on government, the courts, and business. He retired as an attorney at the end of 2018, after concentrating for nearly four decades on civil and criminal litigation and trials. A career highlight was successfully defending a retired Pennsylvania state trooper who was accused,...


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