Pa. AG Joins 197th District Special Election Investigation

Pa. Attorney General Josh Shapiro (AP Photo/Bradley C Bower, File)

The Pennsylvania attorney general has joined an investigation into last week’s special election to fill a seat in the state House of Representatives.

The District Attorney’s office first announced an investigation into the 197th District election on March 24th, the same day that Democratic write-in candidate Emilio Vazquez was declared the winner.

The election stirred widespread controversy after two of Vazquez’s competitors — Republican Lucinda Little, the sole candidate on the ballot, and Green Party write-in candidate Cheri Honkala — reported illegal voter assistance, electioneering and other questionable poll activities in the North Philadelphia district, which includes parts of Feltonville, Hunting Park, Glenwood, Fairhill, and North Square.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro will join the DA’s office in its investigation of the special election. Shapiro said the offices “will ultimately make a charging determination based on evidence,” according to CBS3.

While it’s extremely rare for write-in candidates to win elections, the district is heavily Democratic — so it was even more unlikely that residents would elect a Republican candidate. According to unofficial numbers released last week, Vazquez secured 1,970 votes while Honkala received 282. Little got less than 8 percent of the vote.

Honkala reportedly plans to file a federal suit challenging the results. Adam Bonin, Vazquez’s attorney, told CBS3 that the investigation is not likely to “disturb the results of the election … when the outcome is this clear.”

The DA’s office is calling for “submissions showing fraud” to be sent to the Election Fraud Task Force via 215-686-9724 or by emailing justice@phila.gov.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.

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