Montgomery County officials have taken issue with a video that the county Republican Party obtained through a right-to-know request and released to the news media.
The video shows a woman feeding several ballots into an Upper Dublin ballot box used in last November’s election. Ballot boxes and no excuse mail-in ballots permitted under Act 77 have been an issue in the last three elections, with many voters questioning the integrity of the new system.
Even though individuals are required to put their own ballots into ballot boxes, the county said in a letter to GOP Chair Liz Preate Havey that the woman shown was permitted to submit those ballots because she had “a completed Designated Agent Form in accordance with Pennsylvania law.”
“Each form properly identified the individual voter and designated the individual in the video as the person permitted to act as an agent on the voter’s behalf,” the letter said. “The county maintains each of these Designated Agent forms in its possession. This individual did nothing wrong. In fact, the video shows this voter taking the proper steps to enfranchise residents of a local rehabilitation and long-term care facility so that their votes were legally cast.
“It is irresponsible that MCRC, rather than make a reasonable attempt to get the facts, released this video to a third party and on MCRC social media falsely accusing the individual involved with ‘illegal ballot harvesting,’ when in fact, the individual correctly followed the rules for returning ballots. Mail-in ballots may be returned to the Board of Elections by a designated agent acting on behalf of a voter who, due to a disability, is not able to do so on their own.
“Returning ballots to a secure ballot drop box is one of several ways to return ballots to the Board of Elections. Many voters of both parties choose to deliver their ballot to a secure drop box for the peace of mind they provide. Each drop box has the rules clearly posted, is under 24-hour video surveillance, and has every ballot collected daily by a sheriff’s deputy and delivered directly to Voter Services,” according to the letter, which a county spokesperson released to Delaware Valley Journal.
Not surprisingly, the Republicans disagreed with the county officials’ explanation.
In a press release, GOP officials said, “The Pennsylvania Department of State designated agent form clearly states, ‘the person you designate as your agent is only allowed to serve as a designated agent for one voter, unless the additional voter(s) live in the same household as you (the voter named in this form).’”
They called the county’s response “deeply troubling.”
“The county is interpreting a large senior living facility as one household,” the Republicans said. “The Pennsylvania Department of State Voting Fact Sheet for Long Term Care Facilities specifically states a ‘household’ for the purpose of designating an agent does not include a long-term care facility.”
Also, “the county fails to note whether or not the woman who did the ballot harvesting lives in the ‘same household as all the people for whom she dropped the ballots as required by Pennsylvania law. That is because she does not live in a senior living facility according to her voter registration. She has been identified by many as a long-time leader in the Democrat Party.”
And the Republicans said, “The county never addressed designated agents using drop boxes for any reason in its published instructions or in any communication with the Republican Party or its candidates.”
“The Democrat-controlled county has chosen to protect one of its own party leaders in direct violation of Pennsylvania law,” the Republicans added. “This kind of blatant disregard for even the simplest election security rules is unacceptable and contributes to the deep distrust many have in our system.”
In addition, the “MCRC is requesting the Montgomery County Election Board provide all the evidence that the county reviewed regarding the woman who dropped the multiple ballots. And we ask that it also provide the information to the district attorney and, if appropriate, the attorney general.
“We would also like to know the county’s conclusions and actions to be taken about each of the other 106 people who dropped more than one ballot at the Upper Dublin drop box. If the county does not provide this information, MCRC is prepared to submit a Right to Know Request for this information.”