Something Rotten in Pennsylvania

By Julie Kelly November 22, 2020 American Greatness


Americans deserve to know whether the most consequential state in the most consequential presidential race in modern history handled everything on the up-and-up. Right now, it seems they didn’t.


An October 29 story in the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that election officials in several Pennsylvania counties were debating how to alert voters that their mail-in ballot might not meet state requirements. “Officials across Pennsylvania are trying to help voters fix mail ballots that would otherwise be disqualified because of technical mistakes in completing them, creating a patchwork of policies around how—or even whether—people are notified and given a chance to make their votes count,” reporter Jonathan Lai explained. Some jurisdictions were contacting voters directly; one county, according to the paper, sent the “flawed” ballots back to the voters.


But there was a much bigger story behind Lai’s article: Election officials clearly violated the law by inspecting mail-in ballots before November 3. According to Pennsylvania’s election rules, county election boards were required to “safely keep the ballots in sealed or locked containers” until pre-canvassing legally began at 7 a.m. on Election Day.


Not only were an unknown number of mail-in ballots mishandled by election workers days before the official start date, election observers were not present at the premature inspections.


The state’s election code clearly states:


[T]he county board of elections shall meet no earlier than seven o’clock A.M. on election day to pre-canvass all ballots received prior to the meeting. A county board of elections shall provide at least forty-eight hours’ notice of a pre-canvass meeting by publicly posting a notice of a pre-canvass meeting on its publicly accessible Internet website. One authorized representative of each candidate in an election and one representative from each political party shall be permitted to remain in the room in which the absentee ballots and mail-in ballots are pre-canvassed.


Roughly 2.5 million Pennsylvanians voted absentee in the general election; nearly 2 million of those votes were cast for Joe Biden. One analysis found rejection rates for Pennsylvania mail-in ballots was 30 times lower this year compared to 2016.


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