Thursday, September 17, 2020

A Bad Week for a Fair Election in Pennsylvania

 This was a bad week for election law developments in the election "ground zero" Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. But we can't say we didn't see it coming.

First, the State Supreme Court, popularly elected in partisan elections and sporting a 5-2 Democratic majority, unilaterally rewrote state election law and dictated that mail-in ballots may be received 3 days after the election, so long as they are postmarked by Nov. 3rd, which of course is election day.

Second, they bought the arguments of establishment Democrats and struck the Green Party's presidential nominee from the ballot. In 2016, Green Party nominee Jill Stein captured 49,000 votes; Trump won the state's electoral votes by a 44,000 vote margin. It is not hard to figure out why Democrats wanted to eliminate that choice for Pennsylvania's voters.
In and of themselves, none of these actions seem unreasonable. If the Green Party failed to meet ballot qualifications, they shouldn't be allowed on the ballot. Fair enough. And the signature issue may depend on whether counties simply put these ballots aside and give voters a chance to correct or defend their signatures, as many other states do. I'm fine with that.
But let me tell how you this might work. Just this week, we received a slick mailing at our home from the Republican Party. It was an absentee ballot application mailed to our youngest son, who hasn't lived or voted here for 4 years and is in fact registered in Colorado.
Other than the fact that I am an ethical person who wishes not to skirt the law, I can now forge Garrett's signature on the application, the subsequent ballot, and know that his ballot may not only be counted but can't be discarded without some contact with us to ensure that it is his ballot. That of course would not only be wrong, but illegal. We will not do it. But see how this works? Further, if counties are overwhelmed with mail ballots, are they equipped to contact voters, one by one, to allow them to address the signature issue? Maybe in rural "red" counties, but probably not here in blue Delaware or Montgomery Counties.
The Republican state chairman, Lawrence Tabas, reported recently that he received not one but three ballots, mailed to his Philadelphia home when applying for an absentee ballot. Philadelphia, of course, is a very blue city. Pennsylvania's voter rolls are a mess, and quite possibly in violation of the National Voter Registration Act's Section 8 on maintaining voter roll integrity. No matter to the courts here in Pennsylvania.
As for the first issue - allowing ballots to be received 3 days AFTER the election, you can imagine how mail-in ballots will be tracked by both parties, via county courthouses, up to and through election day. Would you be surprised to learn of mail ballots that suddenly appear on Nov. 6th but lacked the postmark because of a postal "error?" You can hear the plaintiffs before the judge now: "these voters (?) should not be disenfranchised because of the mistakes of the US Postal Service." Expect Louis DeJoy's name to be evoked. You know it is coming. We will never know why these ballots were not postmarked - if, of course, they ever made it to the Postal Service (get my point?).
And, of course, what if the counties can't keep up with processing because of the overwhelming number of mail ballots? It happened during the June 2nd primary, where the Governor extended the deadline for receipt of the ballot to several more days after the election (again, assuming the postmark by election day.
Here's my bottom line. If Trump doesn't win Pennsylvania on election day by at least 100,000 votes, The Democrats will find a way to juice the vote by mail system to turn the tide - you know, the "Red Mirage" theory. That is why they want to delay counting mail ballots - to see how many they need. That is why they are placing, perhaps illegally, "drop boxes" that are unregulated, compared to USPS boxes, which are protected by federal law. That is why they don't want to have ballots inconvenienced by voting officials checking to make sure signatures are verified. They know what they're doing. They've done it before.
Fortunately, Trump doesn't need Pennsylvania to win the Electoral College, but that would give him no margin for error elsewhere.

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