The great swing state of Pennsylvania is embroiled in charges of election irregularities and failures which undermine voter confidence.
The Epoch Times reports Pennsylvania has yet to certify its May 17 primary election results, something Republican State Rep. Seth Grove, chairman of the House State Government Committee, calls unacceptable.
A “myriad” of election-related issues and problems are profiled in a blistering, 186-page report, titled Election Reform in Pennsylvania: Missed Opportunities and Continued Chaos-an Interim Report on The Status of Elections in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania After the Veto of House Bill 1300.
Notably, in June 2021, Democratic Governor Tom Wolf vetoed legislation designed to ensure election integrity following multiple allegations of faulty reporting in the 2020 presidential election.
The Epoch Times reports that Grove is advocating for election reforms, including:
Mandating voter identification
Providing for early in-person voting
Moving the voter registration deadline back from 15 days to 30 days before the election
Establishing a state bureau of election audits
Allowing for pre-canvassing of mailed ballots
Making it easier for older and disabled voters to cast a ballot by moving them to the front of the line or providing curbside voting so they could remain in their vehicle.
Governor Wolf has rejected similar proposals in the past, saying of the former HB 1300 in 2021:
“This bill is ultimately not about improving access to voting or election security, but about restricting the freedom to vote. If adopted, it would threaten to disrupt election administration, undermine faith in government, and invite costly, time-consuming, and destabilizing litigation.”
Grove indicated he was greatly disappointed in the governor’s response. “It didn’t seem like Wolf read the bill,” Grove said in his report, adding:
“Unfortunately, Gov. Wolf vetoed the bill despite seeming largely unfamiliar with the contents. By vetoing the legislation, he made himself the sole obstacle to historic reform that would have improved nearly every aspect of election administration in Pennsylvania. Most importantly, it would have allowed the General Assembly to live up to our constitutional requirement for uniformity and fairness in elections and prevent any reoccurrence of the national attention our current, broken process received during and after the November 2020 election.”
The Epoch Times noted that the lengthy report details multiple issues such as:
In 2021, a Luzerne County man admitted to using his deceased mother’s information to apply for an absentee ballot.
During the May 2021 primary, some counties faced a shortage of paper ballots at polling places on election day, in part due to higher than expected in-person voting. Shortages happened in Clearfield, Delaware, Lebanon, and York counties, and possibly others.
In Fayette County during the same election, an issue with barcodes meant ballots were not scanning or being recorded. Affected ballots were set aside and counted by hand when polls closed.
Also in the May 2021 primary, nine Snyder County voters received the wrong ballots, and Erie County voters left two polling sites with their marked ballots.
During the November 2021 general election, during the preelection process, Berks County’s Spanish-language ballot instructions included the incorrect date for the election, affecting 17,000 mail-in ballots.
In the same election, the Lehigh County Board of Elections decided to count undated ballots. In response, members of the House Republican Caucus issued a letter threatening impeachment unless the law was followed. The matter resulted in litigation in federal courts, with the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ordering the undated ballots be counted.
Grove argues that court rulings regarding election reform have been ignored. He noted that the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals ruling regarding undated ballots in the May 2021 primary ordered certain ballots to be counted, but as of yet three counties have not complied, claiming that the previous court decision applied only to a single case and that the election code does not provide for election results to be certified a second time.
The case has been elevated to the Commonwealth Court that indicates a pattern of delaying or obstructing efforts at reform.
Grove has called the governor and lawmakers to enact election reform legislation quickly.
“It is my hope all sides and stakeholders can come to the table to compromise and bring true and meaningful election reform to Pennsylvania voters. House Republicans have stood, and still stand, ready to address the myriad of election issues urgently in need of correction.”
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