Judge denies request to throw out mail-in ballots in Pa. Senate race

PITTSBURGH — A federal judge on Tuesday denied a petition by Republican Nicole Ziccarelli to throw out 311 Allegheny County mail-in ballots in the contentious Pennsylvania State Senate District 45 race between she and Democrat Sen. Jim Brewster,

Ziccarrelli filed the challenge in the fight for the seat, which covers parts of Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.

The Senate will return to session at 11 am tomorrow to swear in Brewster.

Ziccarelli released a statement which said in part: “Today a federal judge issued a ruling in our case. While I disagree with it and am obviously disappointed that election laws were changed by state judges after the election, I respect that the federal court does not view they have a role in this decision.”

The state reports Brewster won by 69 votes in the November election. However, Ziccarelli argued that Allegheny County improperly counted more than 300 mail-in ballots that didn’t have a date on the outer mailing envelope.

Republicans refused to seat Brewster last week, leading to chaos on the Senate floor. Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman screamed at Senate Republicans and was eventually removed.

>>STORY: Lt. Gov. Fetterman removed from Senate as chaos mars first day of legislative session

A decision from the judge was supposed to be handed down Monday, but it was delayed.

When Brewster gets sworn-in, he’ll be wearing his daughter’s name. She passed away in the spring.

“We’re anxious to get back to work,” he said.