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Pennsylvania Primary Fiasco Underscores Urgent Need for Election Reform

Posted on Sunday, May 22, 2022
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by Daniel Berman
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AMAC Exclusive – By Daniel Berman

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By May 17, somewhere between 1.3 and 1.4 million Pennsylvanians cast ballots in the state’s Republican primary for the U.S. Senate. We do not know the exact number even nearly a week later, as counties are not required to report the number of mail-in-ballots received, votes cast on election day, or provisional ballots, much less how many have been counted or remain to be counted. While Dr. Oz has held a small but steady lead of about 1,000 votes over David McCormick as votes trickle in, the exact number is constantly shifting. At one point on the afternoon of May 19 it appeared that there were 17,000 votes left to count, but then the Pennsylvania Secretary of State said that there were only 8,700 left to count. McCormick’s campaign has hired a Supreme Court litigator who oversaw a recount for a Florida Senate race. In the meantime, the Democratic nominee, Lt. Gov Fetterman, has the field to himself.

All in all, it is a mess, and a strong argument for why we need to reform our election system. It is not a matter of whether fraud or negligence have taken place, or if the system is merely too convoluted for anyone to tell the difference. The point is that, like Caesar’s wife, an electoral system should be above suspicion. Instead, the odds are we may not know who the GOP nominee for Senate is for weeks, and perhaps never know who actually won.

Elections are about trust, and trust is undermined when errors occur, when there is a lack of transparency, and when vote totals change without warning. The country saw the dangers of that in 2020, and we are seeing that again. The point is not even whether or not the count is accurate. What is the value of an accurate count if millions have doubts as to whether it is in fact accurate? That is why the rebuttals to concerns about vote counts halting overnight, or changing over the course of weeks miss the point. It is enough that they make people doubt the integrity of the process to damage the legitimacy of the outcome. And the fact is, the more complex any system is, the less transparent it will appear. Which only further underscores the importance of prioritizing simplicity in our electoral systems.

When votes are cast in person, on election day, the machines tally votes as they happen. Any error is caught immediately. Poll workers do not have to store ballots anywhere or sort them. At the end of the day the machines print out totals, they are reported, and can be checked if needed. Not so with absentee balloting. Mailed ballots can arrive not just on election day but any day before, and often, depending on the state, for several days after. Rather than keeping track of votes for a single day, election workers must monitor them for weeks. They cannot even isolate them in secure locations, as more ballots will arrive daily. This is a challenge for even the most honest and hardest working poll workers, who will be blamed, in many cases unfairly, for anything that appears improper.

Elections are messy. Mistakes happen. Sometimes they are massive. In Lancaster County, a printer error resulted in a situation in which nearly two-thirds of the 21,000 mailed-in ballots cannot be scanned and will need to be tallied by hand. There is no reason to believe anything other than an honest error was behind the situation. Given the messy nature of the geography of this primary, it is unclear who, if anyone, would have anything to gain from purposely causing this error. In a lopsided election, the 14,000 votes would not even matter. With a race likely to be decided by under 1000, lawyers for both Senate campaigns are likely to descend on the county to dissect every single ballot.

The point is not to suggest the error in Lancaster casts doubt on the outcome of the election or to condemn either McCormick or Oz from taking advantage of it. Rather, it is to highlight that complexity in any system inherently creates more areas where things can go wrong. While there are legitimate concerns about the security of vote by mail, even in a system where there was no fraud and no prospect of fraud, increasing the number of places where ballots can be cast, misplaced, damaged, or otherwise lost increases the likelihood they will be, and that campaigns will try and utilize random chance and honest mistakes to their advantage. A major reason for restricting mail-in voting to those who had medical or age-related reasons was to limit the number of mailed ballots that needed to be processed. Democrats, and many Republicans, in advocating expanding it, saw only the convenience it could provide and not the drawbacks.

It is important to call out fraud, but it does a disservice to the debate to frame arguments against universal mail-in voting over absurd lengths of time, solely in terms of deliberate, malicious fraud. Even without any malice or actual fraud, such a system will inevitably produce outcomes like that in the Pennsylvania Senate primary, and worse, create incentives for lawyers and campaigns to manipulate the count in malicious ways after the votes have been cast in an effort to gain an advantage. Simplicity is about limiting the number of things that can go wrong. Things will go wrong anyway. We need a very good reason to create more. What is happening in Pennsylvania is a further reminder that we have never had one.

Daniel Berman is a frequent commentator and lecturer on foreign policy and political affairs, both nationally and internationally. He holds a Ph.D. in International Relations from the London School of Economics. He also writes as Daniel Roman.

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PaulE
PaulE
2 years ago

Yes, the recent election results in Pennsylvania highlighted why it was so important to enact election reforms and tighten up all aspects of the process BEFORE the primary season for the 2022 midterms was already underway. What the h*ll did you expect would happen, if you just allowed the same flawed and easily manipulated voting policies and sloppy ballot production standards from 2020 to be used in 2022? Now it is too late in most states to act, even if the Republican legislatures and Governors in those states actually wanted to now, as the window to enact changes is closed in most states. Now the focus has to be on the general election in November.

If your state is Republican led and your state legislature and Governor didn’t enact a full slate of election process reforms to avoid all the “messy issues” the author is trying to gloss over, then you should be asking them all some very, very hard questions and if they are being primaried by a better Republican, then vote for that better alternative. If you think the preventable chaos that we’re seeing in Pennsylvania is bad, wait until virtually every midterm race is undergoing the same treatment nation-wide.

If your state is solid blue Democrat led, then sorry but election reform and a completely clean election process is just a dream. There is zero incentive for Democrats to clean up a process to ensure election integrity and quick results. Democrats like the chaos of “messy” elections, as they afford the opportunity to “nudge” the results in the direction they prefer.

Jan Satterfield
Jan Satterfield
2 years ago

It’s a shame that a whole lot of men and women died and became partially and fully disabled we cant make our elections beyond reproach and 100% clean. If that helps to have voting on Election Day only that’s what we need to do.

Don’t all of us know and think that’s a small inconvenience compared to those who died to let us live our lives in freedom and let us exercise our privilege to vote.

Robert Zupanek
Robert Zupanek
2 years ago

There was a time when all voting took place in person on one day. Absentee ballots were only for those who had a medical or other verifiable that prevented them from going to the polls. This new system is a bunch of crap

Harry
Harry
2 years ago

#1. WAFJ
#2. Every GD state must require every damn bit of the votes counted by the end of the Election Day . We gave them many days out prior to vote just to have to wait for the results .Fk that!!

Festus
Festus
2 years ago

Amazing! The Republican’s can’t even run their own primaries. What are they going do when they are up against the kings of deceit?

Jess Salazar
Jess Salazar
2 years ago

The progressive left couldn’t care less about fair elections! Why else do they vehemently oppose voter ID laws? They can’t provide any valid reason, not to require proof of who you are, before casting your vote. A simple requirement, for a not so complicated issue.
No, mail in balloting is the far left’s bread and butter and always has been.

Chris
Chris
2 years ago

Sorry but nothing is going to get any better. Sad truth. Dems want this and the Republicans may win in November but will do nothing. As usual.

Ricky
Ricky
2 years ago

The old proverb: The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Bill T
Bill T
2 years ago

This is just a preview of the most rigged and corrupt election we’ve ever seen ( will make 2020 look like a fair and completely honest election) the election fraud we’re in for will make the banana republic elections look fair and honest. The leftist progressive socialist democrats are never going to let go of the house and if they could steal the senate they would in a heartbeat. The Rhinos aren’t any better and are a huge problem for the conservative and Republican Party, The Turtle is a trader to our republic and our people.

Susan Miller
Susan Miller
2 years ago

PA is determined to commit fraud. Oz is hardly a conservative and at best a RINO. There is no valid excuse for this. PA is committing fraud.

Father Timothy Shaughnessy
Father Timothy Shaughnessy
2 years ago

Letting people cast votes from home creates more time for sloth and onanism.

Kat
Kat
2 years ago

1. Voter ID needs to be mandatory for all. 2. People who do mail-in voting should be required to prove that they are unable to vote in person.3. NO MACHINES.

douglas Wallace
douglas Wallace
2 years ago

“Voter I.D.’s discriminate against the poor .” Here’s an idea : Give them away FREE ! Better , everyone signing up gets a FREE fast food gift card .

Stephen Russell
Stephen Russell
2 years ago

Rerun 2020 again??

R Anthony Botti
R Anthony Botti
2 years ago

We need to bring back the old voting machines (Myers patent with Davis and Gillespie modifications). Those things kept elections honest IN NEW YORK (!!!) for a whole century.

Jeb
Jeb
2 years ago

For nonbelievers in election fraud…how many times/elections do you need this to occur. Shame on you if you didn’t get it after the 2020 election. But, I get it, you can’t fix stupid.

jocko
jocko
2 years ago

libs LIE AND CHEAT. NEVER, EVER TRUST A lib, they ARE THE ENEMY OF OUR NATION

Rik
Rik
2 years ago

After President Trump was CHEATED out of winning the last election, what makes you think they won’t cheat again? . . . What has the Republican Party done to guarantee it won’t happen again?

Hal
Hal
2 years ago

What happened in the Penn primary voting cited in the article reports a clumsy violation of voting laws which go on in other states as well …. just not as clumsy. Until significant and major changes in the process and methodology of future elections, it will continue to be a major stronghold for the DemocRats to rig elections. I truly believe major changes are needed … or future elections will not be honest, fair, and representative of the people’s will … they will be representative of the will of the DemocRat Part’s ruling junta which puts “party first and only” … a basic characteristic of Communism. Odd that the party calling itself “Democrat” is in truth a hybrid of Communism. If the Nation is to be a true Constitutional Democracy, the voting system needs vital fixing.

barbara
barbara
2 years ago

unless changes are done before the 22 elections, we will lose again thru fraud and mail in ballots. TAKE CONTROL OF THE ELECTIONS>

Zoe Frost
Zoe Frost
2 years ago

States MUST enact election reform. Don’t hold your breath for commie/marxist/globalist/demoncrap run states to stop the corruption, they WANT it. Cheating’s NEEDED to win, their evil agenda’s been exposed, evil expletives WANT easy cheat elections!!!). Same for fraud puppet and his marxist globalist cohorts that take Commie Obamie’s “fundamental transformation” to depths of hell.

This is U.S.A., not a banana republic! We need actual FAIR elections, not dictator-run type elections, which we have now! We MUST have elections where a registered voter shows I.D. then votes! Make it a national holiday where everyone votes during hours designated on VOTING DAY. We also MUST get back to only special circumstance absentee voting from a REQUESTED absentee ballot, no mailings to everyone (especially from rolls not purged of dead/ineligible.

We must stop the steal! Absolutely NO drop boxes, no vote harvesting, voting and counting monitored by both sides, no exceptions. No pizza boxes on windows, no midnight shut down for bogus reasons sending R home while D returns to count and pull boxes of pre-filled ballots from under tables, no slipping a D ballot into the counter multile times, and other Demoncrap nefarious and criminal activities so overt in 2020.

Of course, if the commie/globalist Demoncrap traitors were not in power, with a fraud puppet in the White House, running alphabet deartments, the traitors like Pukelosi and Schumer leading the rest of the D and RiNO traitors in the House, Senate traitors, traitor activist judges, traitor MSM propaganda spewers shielding and lying for them…we wouldn’t be in the 3rd world banana republic voting state we’re in. These TRAITORS want to be able to cheat, they are emboldened due to no consequences thus far…expletives on a power trip to destroy our freedoms/opportunities Constitutional Republic (that the expletives hate!).

Chris
Chris
2 years ago

The 2000 Mules documentary shows how the 2020 election was stolen. The tools of election theft are there on display in the documentary, steps need to be taken to stop election fraud.

Donald Graves
Donald Graves
2 years ago

Good article, which is why Democrats oppose reform

Tim Thompson
Tim Thompson
2 years ago

A continuing debacle with mail in ballots still available to almost anyone. You’d think the Republicans could get their act together and confirm one of these people, but it goes on and on and on why? Something is totally wrong here, seems it going to tarnish the 2022 election because the elements of each state especially the blue states who love this mess could get people in there to accurately count ballots faster than what they are doing.

John
John
2 years ago

Here is Rhode Island’s current LET RI VOTE BILLS

Allow a voter to apply for a mail ballot online
Shorten the deadline to request a Braille ballot
Expand who is eligible to be on the ‘permanent mail ballot application list” to include
long term nursing home residents
Make permanent the secure mail ballot dropboxes that were used in every community
in 2020
End the requirement that mail ballots be signed by two witnesses or a notary public

Tom
Tom
2 years ago

All ballots submitted on Election Day all mail in ballots counted for one day after election. Voter ID numbers for all qualified voters! No exceptions!

John Merrick
John Merrick
2 years ago

All I can say is watch “2000 Mules” and all your questions will be answered. All this back-and-forth and debates about all the potential reasonings as to why there is so many thousands of votes and counted etc. this is a joke that’s been perpetrated on the American people horrible despicable joke making a mockery of our election system.

OldConservativeGuy
OldConservativeGuy
2 years ago

Agree totally with the article. With this nonsense still happening, what the heck do we think is going to happen in 2024. Maybe we should just ask the Dems now to tell us what the final numbers will be (sarc)!

Debra Reynolds
Debra Reynolds
2 years ago

I believe we should go back to paper ballots counted by hand, the way we did when I was a poll worker. If we need a lot more poll workers, and a lot more polling places to handle it in places where people are thicker, then do so. It’s not that much expense. We always had everything counted long before dawn, and went home satisfied.

Anymike
Anymike
2 years ago

The obvious solution is, don’t have close elections.

Joanne Ransing
Joanne Ransing
2 years ago

Perception is nine tenths of reality. If it appears fraudulent, then it is fraudulent. Lack of transparency and accountability create the perception of fraud every time.

Will
Will
2 years ago

I do agree that there are many elections so close that accuracy becomes more important. However, this whole mailing thing

Will
Will
2 years ago

I do agree with the fact that when elections are tight, which they have been, then accuracy becomes even more important. However, this whole Mail in ballot thing is so

tika
tika
2 years ago

unfortunately ELECTED repubs stopped election reform nov. 4th, 2020. they only know how to cry and whine; no idea or courage to stand up communism.

figmentdragon@excite.com
2 years ago

Only an imbecile believes posts like yours. Only an imbecile writes posts like yours.

johnh
johnh
2 years ago

Dr. Oz had a slight lead over McCormick for Senate race in PA. Donald Trump threw his two cents in & told Dr. Oz just to claim that he won, as that is what he should have done in 2020. Now just what kind of election reform will that cause when anyone running for office claims they won & if someone else has more votes, that is fraud. Election Reform cannot be done by the wave of a wand or by lawyers.

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