By Rep. Seth Grove (R-York), sponsor of the Voting Rights Protection Act
If you thought the Democratic Party was done manipulating our election laws through the Pennsylvania Court system, think again. Last year, the Democratic Party of Pennsylvania filed a lawsuit requesting six changes to the Pennsylvania Election Code. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court rendered a verdict less than two months before the 2020 General Election. The decision made five major changes to our election laws:
Allowed for drop boxes.
Extended the “received-by” deadline by three days past Election Day for mail-in ballots postmarked by 8 p.m. on Election Day and included a presumption of timely mailing for ballots without a legible postmark or proof of service.
County boards of election were not required “to implement a ‘notice and opportunity to cure’ procedure” for mailed ballots.
The “secrecy envelope provision” concerning mailed ballots was “mandatory.” Further, the “mail-in elector’s failure to comply with such requisite by enclosing the ballot in the secrecy envelope renders the ballot invalid.”
“The poll watcher residency requirement does not violate the state or federal constitutions.”
The late lawsuit and impending Department of State guidance put local election officials into a tailspin, adding confusion and non-uniform administration of elections. Under oath, former Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar admitted she unilaterally decided not to count the federal elections for ballots received after election night, disenfranchising actual voters, while ensuring state Sen. Jim Brewster won his closely contested election. That is right, the only entity that disenfranchised voters during the 2020 election was the Wolf administration. This is the same Wolf administration that worked to ensure private foundations funded Democrat-controlled counties during the 2020 general election.
During the 2021 Primary Election, the Philadelphia Election Board attempted to violate state election laws by approving mail-in ballots without a signature or date. Instead of the Democratic Party of Pennsylvania filing a lawsuit to change election laws, they recruited their elected officials. This was an attempt to bait the Republican Party into filing suit and again have the Pennsylvania Supreme Court change election laws. We didn’t take the bait and instead picked a different path. We sent a letter to Philadelphia’s Election Board letting them know if they did not rescind their vote breaking the Election Law, we would pursue articles of impeachment against them. Philadelphia’s Election Board reversed its decision, and our election laws were upheld. Since those who are charged with enforcing election laws, specifically the attorney general, have failed to rein in rogue county election boards that violate election laws, the House of Representatives, through its impeachment power, has become the sole election law enforcement entity and we will exercise our constitutional powers to the full extent to ensure fair and free elections.
Now the Democratic County Commissioners of Montgomery County filed suit to continue the ongoing work of the Democratic Party: election law changes via court decision. The change the commissioners want were in the Pennsylvania Voting Rights Protections Act (House Bill 1300), which included significant changes to increase access to legal voters, ensure election integrity for all election process and modernize our election laws. Instead of advocating for its passage, the Montgomery County Commissioners sat on their hands and allowed Gov. Tom Wolf to veto this important legislation to help counties administer elections.
Instead of filing lawsuits at the bidding of the Democratic Party, the Montgomery County Commissioners should be working with the legislative branch to change election laws. Not advance the false premise that the Pennsylvania courts or the Department of State should be weaponized to change election laws.
How sad our elections have become, but there is hope. All these issues are addressed in House Bill 1800, the reintroduction of the Pennsylvania Voting Rights Protection Act. All Wolf needs to do is work with the General Assembly, and these issues will fade into the sunset. The only exciting aspect of election should be close elections, not the process by which the elections are conducted. House Republicans are committed to improving our election system for you, the voters, and our local election officials who administer our elections. The success of our election system rests with Wolf. Will he lead or will he fail voters?
Rep. Seth Grove
196th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives