A Message From Bill McSwain
Over two weeks ago, Pennsylvanians voted to elect local officials and judges at all levels. Although Judge Drew Crompton, running for election to Commonwealth Court, was up by over 80,000 votes on Election Night, he now trails by approximately 17,000 votes and an automatic recount began yesterday, November 17.
Thanks to Act 77, which established no-excuse mail-in voting in Pennsylvania, counties were forced to navigate a deluge of misplaced, incorrect, or duplicate ballots, and the upheaval of what should otherwise be straightforward outcomes.
Across Pennsylvania, frustrated citizens have been left wondering whether their votes were counted, and questioning the validity of the final outcomes. The inconsistent enforcement of election laws across counties only increases this distrust, and discourages voters who are losing faith in a disorganized, haphazard system.
Here are just some of the problems reported statewide:
My home county was not spared from the chaotic consequences of mail-in balloting. In fact, a software error resulted in a tabulation of more votes counted than ballots received, an error that motivated GOP Chairman Gordon Eck to call for a forensic audit. The Republican Committee of Chester County has since outlined additional irregularities, available here.
- When additional ballots were found in a ballot box at the Downingtown Library, even the Democrat County Chair was forced to concede that there were significant problems.
- One week after Election Day, ballots were still not completely counted.
The Lehigh County Board of Elections voted unanimously to accept 260 ballots that were returned undated, in direct violation of Pennsylvania election code. Top PA House Republicans, including Speaker Bryan Cutler and Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, sent a letter to the Lehigh Board of Elections threatening impeachment unless they agree to rescind the decision to count the illegal votes.
- All seven signers of the letter are members of House Republican leadership or committee chairpersons. The letter cites a section of state law on preparing mail-in ballots that includes that a voter “shall then fill out, date and sign the declaration printed on such envelope.”
Over a week after votes were cast, school board candidates were still waiting to hear results. This is not surprising given the significant mail-in ballot errors that took place ahead of Election Day, resulting in confusion over the outcomes of dozens of races across the county. The Montgomery County evaluation of the issues is available here.
- Ballots printed with only one side were mailed to 16,000 voters. Recipients of these incomplete ballots were sent replacements and instructed to destroy the old ones.
- In another printing issue, 9,000 ballots were mailed out that were unable to be read by the county scanners.
In Northampton County, “ballot curing,” or allowing a voter to “cure” or correct an issue with their ballot before it’s counted, is being performed by the county elections office.
- Ballot curing is not permitted in the election code and leads to the unequal administration of an election.
- Inconsistent enforcement of laws, and disparities between counties on whether or not to allow ballot curing, result in unequal treatment of voters.
- As in 2020, there was no meaningful observation of mail-in ballot counting.
- At no point in the counting process could any observer view the actual markings on the ballots being counted by the temporary workers in order to judge for themselves whether the ballots were being properly tallied in accordance with Pennsylvania’s election code.
- Inability to observe the accuracy of the count negates all possibility for effective oversight.
This mismanagement of our elections is a direct result of no-excuse mail-in voting, which has wreaked havoc across the state, relies on a system that increases opportunities for error, confusion, and inaccuracy, and robs voters of confidence in their elections.
Pennsylvanians deserve transparent, accountable, and fair elections executed smoothly and with timely, accurate results. We must take a stand to protect the integrity of all future elections by repealing Act 77 and returning to the far superior, traditional system of in-person voting.
But safeguarding our elections doesn’t stop there. As Governor, I will do everything in my power to restore faith in our electoral system. I will make it easy to vote but hard to cheat by, for example, implementing voter ID, banning private funding of elections, and ensuring that in-person voting is conducted legally and fairly. My recent op-ed on protecting election integrity is available here.
I hope I can count on you to join me in protecting every Pennsylvanian’s right to vote.
Yours in the fight,
Republican Candidate for Governor
Former U.S. Marine Commander
Former U.S. Attorney appointed by President Trump