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McDANIEL: Why the RNC Sued the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvanians deserve much better. The Keystone State is the birthplace of some of America’s greatest achievements, but in recent years it has become better known for its disastrous election integrity issues. There are several reasons for this. But perhaps number one is the state’s failure to ensure uniform election practices apply statewide.

Pennsylvania’s Constitution is clear: It says that election rules must “be uniform throughout the state.” But under  Gov. Tom Wolf and Democrat leadership, the rules for counting your vote vary drastically depending on where you live. Last week, a coalition led by the Republican National Committee and several concerned citizens sued the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in an effort to help right this significant wrong in Pennsylvania’s unequal treatment of voters.

Our lawsuit seeks to ensure that all counties treat their voters the same when it comes to counting their ballots. In recent elections, some counties have begun the practice of contacting voters who return ballots with mistakes, such as lack of a signature, and allowing them to fix–or “cure”–the problem. State officials admit that allowing for such a practice is nowhere to be found in Pennsylvania law, but many counties are ignoring the law.

To be clear, the Republican Party is not against allowing absentee voters to fix mistakes. Just last year, Republicans in the General Assembly sent a bill to Gov. Wolf that would standardize the process for voters to fix their ballots. However, he vetoed it because the legislation also contained such commonsense measures as voter ID and restrictions against ballot harvesting. That is truly unfortunate and a loss for Pennsylvania election integrity. But it doesn’t change the fact that without a law allowing for curing on the books, counties cannot create one out of thin air.

Our lawsuit simply asks Pennsylvania’s courts to ensure uniformity throughout the state and not punish county election officials or their voters for following the law. Counties that allow for curing may be well-intentioned, but their practices are doing nothing more than undermining the rule of law and causing voters who witness this dysfunction to lose confidence in the state’s elections. It has to stop.

The same rules should apply to a voter voting in the Delaware valley and a voter across the state in Pittsburgh. And these rules should be set by the legislature which is elected by you, the voters. We don’t need counties going rogue and making decisions about election guidelines that should be made by elected representatives in the legislature.

Our recent lawsuit against Pennsylvania was the RNC’s 59th example of election integrity litigation so far this cycle. Since suing North Carolina’s Board of Elections last week, we’re at 60.

This is part of our broad, nationwide effort to ensure transparency and fairness in elections across America. When states like Pennsylvania fail to administer their elections in a standard, fair manner, it falls to groups like ours to step in. We’ll continue fighting to ensure that elections in the Keystone State are free, fair, and transparent – because Pennsylvanians deserve nothing less.

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Ballot Box Dispute Roils Montgomery County

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.”

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PA’s Mastriano Subpoenaed to Testify by Jan. 6 Committee

The Democrat-controlled congressional committee investigating the January 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol has subpoenaed a Pennsylvania state senator to testify.

Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin), who is running for governor, attended the rally for former President Donald Trump, but he did not participate in the riot or enter the Capitol building.

“Based on publicly available information and information produced to the Select Committee, we believe that you have documents and information that are relevant to the Select Committee’s investigation. For example, we understand that you have knowledge of and participated in a plan to arrange for an alternate slate of electors to be presented to the President of the Senate on January 6, 2021, and we understand that you spoke with former President Trump about your post-election activities,” the letter to Mastriano from committee Chairman Rep. Bernie G. Thompson (D-Miss.) said.

”Based on your public statements, we understand that you were present during the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, and that you witnessed ‘agitators…getting in the face of the police’ and ‘agitators…start pushing the police up the [Capitol] steps,'” the letter said.

The subpoena is unlikely to hurt Mastriano’s chances in the GOP primary, political observers agree. But it could prove a liability in the general election if he were to be the Republican nominee. A recent poll of primary voters showed Mastriano within 4 points of frontrunner Lou Barletta, a former congressman.

“I think it is too soon to tell whether this is going to become an issue for the Mastriano campaign,” said Berwood Yost, director of the Floyd Institute for Public Policy at Franklin & Marshall College. “I think it could help him with his core supporters generally and with those in the Republican Party who align with former President Trump if he chooses to defy the subpoena, which could be a benefit in the primary campaign. Complying with the subpoena could hurt him with those same voters. However this works out for the primary, I could see this as being harmful to a general election race.”

Mastriano was first elected to the state Senate in May 2019.

Mastriano could not immediately be reached for comment regarding the committee’s demand that he testify.

He is on record questioning the integrity of 2020 election. Mastriano also traveled to Arizona to observe the forensic audit there, before calling for a similar audit to be performed in Pennsylvania.

However, after running afoul of the Senate leadership, Mastriano was stripped of the job of overseeing the audit, replaced by Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee Chairman Sen. Chris Dush (R-Jefferson). Mastriano has continued to push for election integrity in the commonwealth, including his opposition to changes made to Act 77, which allows no-excuse mail-in ballots.

The audit remains tied up in court because of a lawsuit brought by Attorney General Josh Shapiro. Shapiro, a Democrat, is also running for governor.


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