Daryl Campbell and other Chester County residents have repeatedly complained to county commissioners that ballot drop boxes were not secure.
“They always asked us, ‘Where’s your evidence?’” Campbell said. So, the West Chester resident filed a right-to-know request for the video from cameras used to monitor drop boxes during the 2022 primary. He found some 300 pictures of voters putting multiple ballots into a drop box just outside the county Voter Services Center at 601 Westtown Road, along with a video.
Campbell and three other county voters filed a lawsuit last Friday asking the court to order county officials to secure the drop boxes.
Campbell told DVJournal that, as a voter, he is being disenfranchised by the county policy to “secure” the 13 drop boxes with only video cameras that are not monitored.
Asked if perhaps people did not realize they should by law only put their own ballot into a drop box, Campbell pointed out there is a sign on the drop box warning them of that law.
“We are not against the idea of drop boxes,” said Campbell. “We have a problem with them not being secure.”
“My rights are being violated,” said Campbell, who noted that he is not given two or three ballots to fill out when he goes and votes in person. “They were giving people a chance to vote more than once. You’re giving people the opportunity for fraud. This is an election. It’s a sacred thing when you go to vote.”
“Mailed or absentee ballots returned by someone other than the voter are void, invalid, and should not be counted,” the suit said.
Villanova lawyer Wally Zimolong, who filed the lawsuit along with America First Legal Foundation, said, “When the drop boxes are open to receive ballots, the Board of Elections should require monitors to make sure voters are complying with the law. It is no different than the folks that work at the precincts on Election Day who make sure the election is properly conducted. No one objects to having monitors in place there. Drop boxes should not receive special treatment.”
Michael Taylor, the former solicitor for the Chester County Republicans, said, “We had been concerned that the drop boxes were allowing voters (intentionally or mistakenly) to violate the Pennsylvania election code. We wrote to Chester County in March 2022, raising these concerns. We also provided the county with a number of reasonable enhancements for the security of drop boxes in Chester County. We hoped that bringing light to the obvious criminal violations would spur some cross-party reforms that promoted election integrity.
“Sadly, our suggestions were rejected, and our concerns were realized when these photographs were uncovered. Now, before this important general election, it is incumbent that the Chester County Board of Commissioners take meaningful steps to ensure that any drop boxes used in Chester County are not facilitating breaches of the Election Code. Chester County cannot be complicit with or seen to condone those who violate the law.”
Rebecca Brain, a county spokeswoman said, “Since the bipartisan Act 77 came into effect two years ago, Chester County Voter Services has continually reviewed and refined the ways in which mail-in ballots can be cast to ensure all eligible citizens who are registered to vote can do so – whether in person or by mail.
“The county has produced, posted, and publicized informational videos on many aspects of the election process, including voting by the legislature’s newly authorized mail-in ballot. Clear signage on mail-in ballot drop boxes throughout the county notes the rules for returning a mail-in ballot. Additional efforts by Chester County Voter Services for the November 2022 election, which will be undertaken to further educate Republican and Democrat voters alike on the rules for returning a mail-in ballot, include brightly colored notices inserted with all mail-in ballots that clearly explain the rules for returning a mail-in ballot, and the staffing of drop boxes during the drop box opening hours, to monitor and remind all voters of the mail-in ballot rules.
“All images that were presented to Chester County Voter Services, which allegedly indicate in few instances that more than one ballot may have been submitted through a drop box, have been forwarded to the Chester County District Attorney’s Office for review.”
A spokeswoman for the district attorney said the matter is under investigation and her office could not comment.