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Lamb widens lead with absentee ballots from Washington, Greene counties

Tom Fontaine
| Wednesday, March 14, 2018, 7:54 a.m.
A confident Conor Lamb speaks to his supporters after a special congressional district election at the Hilton Garden Inn at Southpointe in Cecil in the early morning hours of March 14, 2018.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
A confident Conor Lamb speaks to his supporters after a special congressional district election at the Hilton Garden Inn at Southpointe in Cecil in the early morning hours of March 14, 2018.
Conor Lamb supporters react as Lamb is introduced to speak after apparently winning a special congressional district election. He spoke at the Hilton Garden Inn at Southpointe in Cecil in the early morning of March 14, 2018.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Conor Lamb supporters react as Lamb is introduced to speak after apparently winning a special congressional district election. He spoke at the Hilton Garden Inn at Southpointe in Cecil in the early morning of March 14, 2018.
Conor Lamb's supporters react after he declared victory in a special election inside of campaign headquarters for the night, the Hilton Garden Inn at Southpointe in Cecil in the early morning hours of March 14, 2018.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Conor Lamb's supporters react after he declared victory in a special election inside of campaign headquarters for the night, the Hilton Garden Inn at Southpointe in Cecil in the early morning hours of March 14, 2018.
Conor Lamb supporters react as Lamb is introduced to speak after apparently winning a special congressional district election. He spoke at the Hilton Garden Inn at Southpointe in Cecil in the early morning of March 14, 2018.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Conor Lamb supporters react as Lamb is introduced to speak after apparently winning a special congressional district election. He spoke at the Hilton Garden Inn at Southpointe in Cecil in the early morning of March 14, 2018.
Conor Lamb supporters watch as the results of the special election in the 18th Congressional District are displayed on screens inside the Hilton Garden Inn at Southpointe in Cecil on March 13, 2018.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Conor Lamb supporters watch as the results of the special election in the 18th Congressional District are displayed on screens inside the Hilton Garden Inn at Southpointe in Cecil on March 13, 2018.
Conor Lamb greets his supporters following his apparent victory in a special congressional district election at the Hilton Garden Inn at Southpointe in Cecil in the early morning hours of March 14, 2018.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Conor Lamb greets his supporters following his apparent victory in a special congressional district election at the Hilton Garden Inn at Southpointe in Cecil in the early morning hours of March 14, 2018.
Conor Lamb supporters react as Lamb is introduced to speak after apparently winning a special congressional district election. He spoke at the Hilton Garden Inn at Southpointe in Cecil in the early morning of March 14, 2018.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Conor Lamb supporters react as Lamb is introduced to speak after apparently winning a special congressional district election. He spoke at the Hilton Garden Inn at Southpointe in Cecil in the early morning of March 14, 2018.
Conor Lamb speaks to his supporters after a special congressional district election at the Hilton Garden Inn at Southpointe in Cecil in the early morning hours of March 14, 2018.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Conor Lamb speaks to his supporters after a special congressional district election at the Hilton Garden Inn at Southpointe in Cecil in the early morning hours of March 14, 2018.
Conor Lamb speaks to his supporters after a special congressional district election at the Hilton Garden Inn at Southpointe in Cecil in the early morning hours of March 14, 2018.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Conor Lamb speaks to his supporters after a special congressional district election at the Hilton Garden Inn at Southpointe in Cecil in the early morning hours of March 14, 2018.

A tally of about 1,400 absentee ballots in Washington and Greene counties Wednesday morning increased Democrat Conor Lamb's razor-thin lead in Western Pennsylvania's special congressional election to 627 votes, according to unofficial results.

Lamb collected 609 of the absentee ballots cast in Washington County, compared with 547 for Republican Rick Saccone and six for Libertarian Drew Miller, said Assistant Elections Director Melanie Ostrander.

In Greene County, Lamb picked up 93 more votes from absentee ballots, Saccone got 107 and Miller received one, the county's elections website showed.

Districtwide, that unofficially gives Lamb 113,813 votes, Saccone 113,186 and Miller 1,379. Lamb leads Saccone by 0.27 percentage points.

An undetermined number of provisional and military ballots remain uncounted. Elections officials in the congressional district's four counties said the number of those ballots are typically small and likely would not change the outcome of the race.

Westmoreland County Elections Director Beth Lechman said the county has about 20 provisional ballots to count and had received 23 military ballots. Nearly 72,000 people voted in Westmoreland on Tuesday — about a third of all votes cast in the congressional district.

The district includes parts of Allegheny, Westmoreland, Washington and Greene counties.

The counties' elections departments will begin a formal review of results on Friday before they are certified and made official in a process that could take days or weeks. That doesn't include potential appeals or demands for recounts.

Although the Western Pennsylvania's pivotal special election race for Congress remained too close to call hours after polls closed Tuesday night, Lamb declared victory in a speech to supporters about 12:40 a.m. Wednesday.

At the time, Lamb had collected 49.8 percent of the votes counted compared with Saccone's 49.6 percent with all of the district's 593 precincts reporting, according to unofficial tallies. Only 579 votes separated the candidates then.

Lamb, a former federal prosecutor and Marine Corps officer with two Ivy League degrees, was considered a longshot when he emerged as the Democratic nominee to run in the race to replace former Congressman Tim Murphy, a Republican who resigned in October amid an extramarital scandal.

Murphy easily won eight elections and Donald Trump carried the district by 19 percentage points in the 2016 presidential election, despite a Democratic voter registration edge of about 24,000.

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