If there is no faith in the integrity of our elections, there will be no faith in those who are elected to govern. It's that simple.
Since the 2020 Presidential Election, there has been great consternation over election integrity in Pennsylvania. This is not unwarranted at all. I have been involved in this process before that election happened, and have been fighting for integrity all along.
Before I tell you what I've done to help restore integrity to our election processes, I invite you to read my column on Act 77, the law that brought no-excuse mail-in voting to Pennsylvania. You can read that column here.
I began my fight for election integrity as a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the now-infamous "Zuckerbucks" in September 2020, months before the 2020 General Election even occurred.
We sued Centre and Delaware Counties, along with the City of Philadelphia in an attempt to halt millions of dollars of private funding for election administration from the Center for Tech & Civic Life (CTCL). That money merely served as a get-out-the-vote effort for the Biden campaign in Democrat-heavy areas. The case was unsuccessful, unfortunately.
After the 2020 Presidential Election, I participated in nearly two dozen separate efforts to seek justice regarding the election, including lawsuits, data reviews, and letters to other officials. I introduced two separate House resolutions to call the results of Pennsylvania's statewide races - including the presidency - into dispute.
And finally, I authored a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and the Archivist of the United States on behalf of several of my colleagues detailing all those efforts. You can download that letter to read for yourself here.
My entire November, December, and January following the election was spent on meetings and other efforts trying to work every angle I possibly could to make heads or tails out of what happened in the election.
After Joe Biden was sworn in, my efforts switched gears to focus on my work on the House State Government Committee. We launched into a rigorous public hearing schedule which featured scores of hours of testimony from dozens of witnesses, all aimed at shoring up Pennsylvania's Election Code after Tom Wolf, Secretary of the Commonwealth Kathy Boockvar, the PA Supreme Court, and election officals in certain counties literally blew through nearly every piece of security the General Assembly had put into place for elections.
The result of this effort was the comprehesive election reform bill known as HB1300 - the Pennsylvania Voting Rights Protection Act. It included beefed-up security for every aspect of the election process in Pennsyvania.
We sent that bill to the governor, who promptly vetoed it. You may recall that while his veto was alleged predicated upon the the bill's voter ID provisions, he turned around within a couple days and said he would support dsome form of voter ID, tacitly admitting that he didn't actually read the bill before vetoing it.
You may also recall that during the 2021 Municipal Election, Wolf admitted that he and his wife actually violated the law by having Mrs. Wolf drop off his ballot for him. HB1300 would have allowed for a spouse or family member to deliver a ballot for someone in the same household, but it is not legal currently.
This is what we have to put up with from this governor, folks. Doesn't know the law; doesn't know what's in the bills he vetoes.
After the veto of HB1300, we went back to the drawing board, made some changes, and reintroduced it as HB1800. That bill now awaits final passage in the House.
Meanwhile, the McLinko lawsuit against Act 77 was filed in July 2021. This is the case in which Commonwealth Court recently ruled that Act 77 is unconstitutional. It is an excellent and well written ruling, and I agree with it. It is now awaiting an appeal filed by the Wolf Administration with the PA Supreme Court.
As such, it would be inappropriate to do anything further with HB1800 at this time until the Supreme Court rules on McLinko, because much of HB1800 addresses shortfalls in the mail-in voting process. If the Commonwealth Court ruling is upheld, much of HB1800 will be moot.
At this point, all of Pennsylvania awaits the outcome of the McLinko appeal. Will the Court confirm that Act 77 and no-excuse mail-in voting is unconstitutional, or will it reverse its own precedent in cases from 1862 and 1924 to keep mail-in voting alive?
It's anyone's guess what the Court will actually do, or as to when they'll rule on it, but I'm prepared either way.
In June 2021 before the McLinko lawsuit was filed, I introduced HB1717, a constitutional amendment which if adopted would make no-excuse mail-in voting illegal in Pennsylvania, in no uncertain terms. This is needed because the language of the constitution itself is not clear on the matter. No one ever codified the 1862 or 1924 rulings into the document.
If the Commonwealth Court ruling in McLinko is upheld, my proposal would incorporate it into the constitution. If the Commonwealth Court ruling is overturned, then HB1717 will serve as a rallying point for those who want to dump mail-in voting by putting the question directly to the people rather than having to deal with a governor who might veto it.
We've been through quite lot with elections in Pennsylvania over the last two years. The more I think about it, more I become convinced that we just need to go back to what a friend of mine calls "Voting Amish" - all paper ballots, marked by each voter, counted without the aid of machines, at your local precinct, the evening of the election. No electronics, no machines, no nonsense.
Restoring confidence in our elections is paramount. No matter what the Court decides, I'm confident we will accomplish it once we have a Republican Governor in office.
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