Federal judge validates Dem lawmaker’s victory after Pennsylvania GOP refuses to seat him
Jim Brewster

A federal judge upheld the election win of a Pennsylvania Democrat who Republican lawmakers refused to seat last week.

State Sen. Jim Brewster's election win was disputed by his Republican challenger, Nicole Ziccarelli, who complained to the court that Allegheny County violated her rights by counting some ballots with defects on their outer envelopes, reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"Contrary to Ms. Ziccarelli's reading, the Court finds that the Supreme Court expressly held that the undated ballots at issue remain valid ballots that are properly counted under state law," ruled U.S. District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan. "Thus, because Ms. Ziccarelli's federal constitutional claims all depend on the invalidity of the ballots under state law, those claims necessarily fail on the merits."

The ruling allowed Brewster's 69-vote win to stand, after a state Supreme Court also found in his favor in the dispute.

The disputed ballots were missing printed dates on their declaration envelopes, but were proven to have been submitted in time and without any other defects.

Allegheny County's board of elections voted in mid-November to count those ballots after the county solicitor argued that technical violations should always go in favor of voters, and both courts agreed.

"He's been declared the winner more times and in more ways than should be necessary, but I believe that the matter is now unequivocally settled," said Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa.