AFA of PA ACTION ALERT
May 29, 2020
Voter Suppression and Voting Insecurity in Allegheny County
Details — From a friend:
By Sue Means (former Allegheny County Councilwoman)
The COVID-19 pandemic is being weaponized by Progressives to change the landscape of our election forever. We must insist on local control and voter verification, otherwise we are opening our elections to great levels of fraud by allowing the few in control to rig the pool of voters that will result in the election outcome they favor. In Allegheny County, there is voter suppression and insecurity. The At-Large Republican County Councilman, Sam DeMarco, described the situation as a ‘perfect storm’.
Every time a person touches your ballot there is an opportunity for a clerical error or fraud:
· Mail-in ballots encouraged due to Covid-19
o In response to the Covid-19 epidemic in April, Allegheny County Executive, Rich Fitzgerald ordered that every registered Republican and Democrat voter receive a mail-in ballot request form. On May 13th, the last batch of request forms of the 600,000 ballot request forms were mailed, barely giving voters enough time to return them. The newly enacted Act 77 requires that completed ballots be received at the Election Department by 8 pm on Election Day.
o So many ballots have been requested that the system for sending the ballots has been overwhelmed which means that some voters may not receive their ballots in time to return them. One week before the deadline to request a mail-in ballot the County considered hiring an outside firm to finish mailing 80,000 requested ballots.
o As of May 26th, Allegheny County had mailed 277,185 ballots, but only 86,715 have been returned. As a result of Act 77, a request for a mail-in or absentee ballot renders the voter ineligible to cast their vote at the polling site on Election Day regardless of whether or not they received or returned a mail-in ballot. Their only option on Election Day is to use a provisional ballot which would only be counted in the case of a very close election.
o In Allegheny County, some voters have received duplicate ballots.
o When the county receives the mail-in ballot request, county employees are to check the signature of the voter against the signature on file, and verify that the registered voter is a qualified voter. With so many requests, did they have the time to carefully check the signature on file? When the completed ballot is returned, the county employee re-checks the voter’s signature and eligibility, but will they have time to check? Does the election department have enough trained staff to handle the volume?
· Further Covid-19 Accommodations
o Polling sites in Allegheny County have been reduced by 60 %. In Bethel Park, there are 9 wards, and 27 precincts in Bethel Park. The 17 polling locations have been reduced to one polling site – Bethel Park High School, where there will be 9 different rooms, one room for each ward. Long lines and lack of social distancing on Election Day may prompt voters to leave rather than wait.
· Inaccurate Voter Rolls
o In January, Allegheny County purged about 69,000 inactive voters from its voter rolls after threats of a lawsuit by Judicial Watch. According to one county official, another 70,000 names need to be removed.
o In response to a law suit filed by the Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF) the County has reached a settlement to further clean up their voter rolls, which apparently include about 1,600 dead people, close to 7,500 voter registrations that have been flagged as duplicates, 1,523 registered voters who claim to be 100-years-old and over, and 1,178 registered voters who are missing dates of birth.
· Failure in New Voting System Implementation
o By executive order Governor Wolf, in 2019, forced Pennsylvania’s County governments to purchase new voting machines to acquire a ‘more secure’ voting system. As a result, Allegheny County taxpayers spent 10.5 million dollars on new voting machines. The new voting system was designed to give voters more security and confidence that their vote was their vote; the voter was to fill in a paper ballot then feed it into a scanner. Trying a new system in a presidential election year is not a good plan.
o Now due to inadequate training, voters will not be granted the opportunity to use the new voting machines on June 2nd. On Election Day, paper ballots will be placed in a box and transported to the Election Department’s Northside warehouse when the polls close at 8 pm. There and then county employees will feed ballots into a scanner. Representatives from both parties and candidates may be present to oversee the scanning process at the warehouse.
o The primary was an opportunity for a successful dry run before the general election but this is not happening.
o Also, every election is important! In this Primary there are contested races for PA Treasurer, PA Auditor, PA Attorney General, PA House, and PA Senate seats.
o The failure to successfully implement the new voting system prompts several questions:
§ Are there adequate safeguards to prevent attempts to literally stuff the ballot box?
§ Will the ballots be secure in the transport box?
§ Will there be a Republican and Democrat present to oversee the transportation of the box to the Northside warehouse?
§ How many days will it take the Election Department to scan all the mail-in ballots plus the ballots collected at 8 pm from the polling places on June 2nd? (Act 77 stipulates that the county has 2 weeks to count the vote.)
§ Where are the voices of those who had demanded a more secure voting system in the first place?
· Beware of future initiatives that will open numerous opportunities for fraud
o Soon County officials will request that Act 77 be amended before the General Election to accommodate early voting, the ability to scan the ballots as they arrive at the Election Department.
o The inability to process all the ballots in a timely fashion is already prompting elected officials across the state to call for an acceptance of late ballots.
· TAKE ACTION
o Share this letter with all your contacts.
o Vote for candidates with integrity.
o Call or write Governor Wolf, your Pennsylvania Senator, and your State Representative. Request the repeal of Act 77 so that mail-in ballots can be eliminated, or request that Act 77 be amended to move the mail-in ballot request deadline to 2 weeks prior to the election, and the mail-in ballot return deadline to be one week prior to the election. Completed absentee ballots, and mail-in ballots should be returned to the judge of elections of local precincts to verify the voter’s eligibility to vote and their signature.
o Lastly, volunteer to be a poll watcher on Election Day placing an extra set of eyes on the election process, and insuring security.