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The race for control of the Pa. state House comes down to these two districts

Republicans would need to win both of the suburban seats to keep their majority. Democrats believe they already won.

Todd Stephens, a Republican state representative running for reelection, goes door-to-door Oct. 28, 2022. His 151st district is one of three that will decide control of the state House.
Todd Stephens, a Republican state representative running for reelection, goes door-to-door Oct. 28, 2022. His 151st district is one of three that will decide control of the state House.Read moreJoe Lamberti / Philadelphia Inquirer

Just two districts and potentially a few hundred votes will decide which party controls the Pennsylvania state House, an electoral prize that will have major implications for how policy is enacted in Harrisburg.

As of Thursday evening, Democrats had won 101 seats and Republicans had won 100 in the 203-member chamber, according to the Associated Press. The two remaining districts are too close to call and could take days to sort out as elections officials count outstanding mail ballots, as well as provisional and military ballots.

Campaigns are also expecting that litigation over whether or how to count mail ballots with defects — like ones that are damaged or incorrectly filled out — will stretch into next week.

Republicans would need to win both seats to keep control of the chamber. Democrats on Wednesday projected they will retake the House for the first time in 12 years, saying the remaining mail ballots — which have generally tilted toward Democrats — will put them over the top.

Republicans said Democrats’ declaration that they would win control of the House was premature. But Democrats feel confident having already nearly erased the 23-seat majority the GOP currently holds.

The remaining races — one in Bucks County and one in Montgomery County — are nail biters.

In Bucks County’s 142nd District, just two votes separated Democrat Mark Moffa and Republican Joseph Hogan as of Thursday afternoon.

Bucks County Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo, a Republican who sits on the county’s elections board, estimated that 330 ballots are yet to be counted, including about 275 provisional ballots, close to 30 ballots from a drop box, and nearly 30 military ballots. Counties begin counting provisional ballots Friday, and they must accept military ballots through Tuesday.

The Bucks County Board of Elections will meet Tuesday to review whether to count provisional ballots and mail ballots with defects. The categories of ballots include voters who went to the wrong polling place, registered voters who didn’t appear in the poll book, and voters who didn’t sign or properly seal their ballot.

» READ MORE: Democrats trying to flip the Pa. House were cautiously optimistic. The abortion decision changed the game.

Moffa, vice president of the Penndel Borough Council, and Hogan, a former congressional staffer, are vying for the seat that was left open by Republican Rep. Frank Farry, who on Tuesday won a seat in the state Senate. The district includes Penndel, Langhorne, Lower Southampton, and parts of Middletown Township.

In Montgomery County, incumbent Republican Rep. Todd Stephens and Democratic challenger Melissa Cerrato were separated by just 14 votes in the county’s 151st District.

Montgomery County spokesperson Kelly Cofrancisco said the county’s election board will meet next week to consider provisional ballots, and will accept military and overseas ballots through Tuesday.

County elections officials said the outstanding ballots include 49 in which the ID couldn’t be verified and 30 that were either undated or wrongly dated. Undated mail ballots have been the subject of back-and-forth litigation for two years. The state Supreme Court ordered last week that both undated and wrongly dated ballots should be rejected.

In addition, there are 3,000 provisional ballots and more than 300 military or overseas ballots countywide, and it’s not clear how many are from voters in the 151st District.

Cerrato’s campaign manager, Jindalae Suh, said the campaign expects legal wrangling over the remaining ballots to last for days.

“All we are working towards is making sure every single vote is counted and that each person has a chance to have their voice heard,” Suh said.

Stephens, a six-term incumbent, has long been targeted by Democrats, who have poured millions of dollars into Montgomery County to try to flip his seat. The county has been getting bluer for two decades and in 2020, President Joe Biden won the district with more than 62% of the vote.

A third close race in Bucks County was settled Thursday evening. In the 144th District, Democrat Brian Munroe prevailed over Republican incumbent Todd Polinchock by about 400 votes.

Staff writer Jonathan Lai contributed to this article.