HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) – The recount began Friday in the close-running Republican primary for the US Senate in Pennsylvania, with nearly 900 votes voting for famed heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz and former hedge fund CEO David McCormick have split.
Montour County began the recount Friday, one of seven counties that said they would begin immediately. Most of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties have said they will start next week, with the deadline starting on Wednesday.
For less populated counties, the process can take a day. More populated counties say it will take several days.
The recount began as a court battle that went all the way to the US Supreme Court, and the state Supreme Court could affect which ballots are counted.
Counties have until June 7 to complete a recount and another day to report the results to the state.
The first result of last week’s primary has remained elusive as some counties were still counting hundreds or thousands of remaining ballots as of Friday, including registered, provisional and absentee ballots from overseas voters and members of the military.
Oz, who is backed by former President Donald Trump, led McCormick by just 922 votes, or 0.07 percentage point, out of more than 1.3 million ballots reported by the state as of Friday afternoon.
The race sparked Pennsylvania’s automatic recount law, with the separation between candidates falling within the law’s 0.5 percent margin. The Associated Press will not declare a winner of the race until the June 8 recount is complete.
The GOP race winner will face off against Democratic nominee Lt. gov. John Fetterman, line up. The Democrats see this as their best chance of getting a seat in the tightly divided Senate. Republican Senator Pat Toomey is retiring after two terms in office.
McCormick’s campaign, meanwhile, has engaged in a court battle to garner votes that could help him close the gap with Oz.
Oz, the Republican National Committee and the state’s Republican Party oppose McCormick’s efforts to force counties to count certain absentee ballots — those without the voter’s handwritten date on the envelope — that might otherwise be discarded for technical reasons.
Some counties have agreed to count them, others not.
A separate case involving those ballots from last November’s election was appealed to the US Supreme Court on Friday. This comes hours after the US Third Circuit Court of Appeals denied a motion to overturn its earlier decision that such ballots should be counted, even though state election law requires voters to write a date on the return envelope.