Election Integrity / Government Watch / Politics

Pennsylvania Primary Fiasco Underscores Urgent Need for Election Reform

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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johnh
1 month 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.

tika
1 month 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.

Will
1 month 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

Will
1 month ago

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

Joanne Ransing
1 month 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.

Anymike
1 month ago

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

Debra Reynolds
1 month 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.

OldConservativeGuy
1 month 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)!

John Merrick
1 month 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.

nita
1 month ago
Reply to  John Merrick

YUP!

Lyndon J Brown
1 month ago
Reply to  John Merrick

You do realize the geo-location data used in this movie has n accuracy of worse than 100 yards. You really can’t tell that a ‘mule’ was putting ballots in drop boxes from the fact that there were within 2 hundred yards of the drop box.

Bob Smith
1 month ago
Reply to  Lyndon J Brown

That’s why they used video from the sites. The Geodata only told them which video to pull. You like your cheating dont you?

Tom
1 month 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
1 month 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

Lyndon J Brown
1 month ago
Reply to  John

So people in RI are smarter than the average american.

John
1 month ago
Reply to  Lyndon J Brown

No, people in RI are morons to allow this nonsense to continue.

Patricia A Arsenault
1 month ago

WHY IS THIS BS STILL HAPPENING? WHY THE WAIT? Hmmm…. #AmericaFirst

Tim Thompson
1 month 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.

Chuck
1 month ago
Reply to  Tim Thompson

50 State Legislatures have to individually fix this. Some have (Florida), some are working on it, some never will (California).

Donald Graves
1 month ago

Good article, which is why Democrats oppose reform

Zoe Frost
1 month ago
Reply to  Donald Graves

Anti-Republic Demoncraps oppose it ’cause the pukes can’t win unless they cheat!

Chris
1 month 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.

Zoe Frost
1 month 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!).

Donald Graves
1 month ago
Reply to  Zoe Frost

Agreed. Thx for taking time to write all that out.

barbara
1 month ago

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

Hal
1 month 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.

Zoe Frost
1 month ago
Reply to  Hal

With commie/globlist D traitors in power, we’re a hanging by a thread Constitutional Republic. FJB and all the other traitors aiding and abetting the death to America…the enemy is within.

Rik
1 month 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?

barbara
1 month ago
Reply to  Rik

Nothing, unless we have change in the elections, the machines voter ID, We are heading for a big loss.

Elton Yancey
1 month ago
Reply to  Rik

Too many republicans don’t care.

Zoe Frost
1 month ago
Reply to  Elton Yancey

Too many Rs are RiNOS who love the gravy train, or been bribed/blackmailed!

jocko
1 month ago

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

Ty
1 month ago
Reply to  jocko

You forgot STEAL! The DNC should be the LCS, Lie, cheat and steal!

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