Pennsylvania House Committee Passes Bills to Move Presidential Primary, Allow Out-of-County Poll Watchers

Pennsylvania’s House State Government Committee on Wednesday passed a Senate bill to move the state’s presidential primary date and another measure to allow out-of-county poll watchers. 

The first of the two bills was sponsored by Sen. John Gordner (R-Bloomsburg) and passed his chamber unanimously last December. And yet only two of the House panel’s 10 Democrats, Kristine Howard (D-Malvern) and Ben Sanchez (D-Abington), backed the legislation during Wednesday’s vote. 

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Mastriano Bill to Allow Out-of-County Poll Watchers in Pennsylvania Passes Senate

Pennsylvania’s state Senate passed legislation this week that would permit a Pennsylvania voter to serve as a poll watcher in an election precinct outside of his or her county.

Current law lets candidates and parties appoint poll watchers — volunteers who are often party committee members — to election precincts only in those watchers’ respective counties. State guidance allows these appointees to “make good-faith challenges” to an elector’s residence, identity or voting eligibility.

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Oz’s Counsel to Commonwealth Court: ‘The Voters of Pennsylvania Have Spoken’

Attorneys for Senate candidate Dave McCormick on Monday found themselves in the atypical position of arguing in Commonwealth Court alongside Pennsylvania’s Democratic Secretary of State about which ballots to count.

The Republican and former hedge-fund executive is challenging the vote-counting standard that has determined the gap of 922 votes between him and his leading primary opponent, celebrity surgeon Mehmet Oz.

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Republican Mastriano to Face Democrat Shapiro for Pennsylvania Governor; Senate Race Too Close to Call

Pennsylvania Republicans on Tuesday gave State Senator Doug Mastriano (R-Gettysburg) the nod to face state Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) in the race for governor this year.

The Democratic Party also nominated Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D) for the Senate seat from which Republican Pat Toomey will retire at the end of 2022. At this writing, the GOP primary contest for that seat remains too close to call between top-tier candidates David McCormick and Mehmet Oz. 

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Grove Proposes Bill to Address Future Pennsylvania Election Complaints

State Rep. Seth Grove (R-PA-York) told legislative colleagues on Monday that he will introduce a measure to ease the process by which Pennsylvanians can report voter fraud and other election-related problems. 

The bill would require the Pennsylvania secretary of state to establish a 1-800 hotline that voters could call to note any alleged misconduct they encounter in the course of an election. The secretary would also need to host annual training sessions for county-level prosecutors on the commonwealth’s election rules. 

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Pennsylvania Activists Prioritize End of No-Excuse Absentee Voting

A coalition of more than 70 grassroots organizations across Pennsylvania issued a declaration at the state’s Capitol Building in Harrisburg last week urging lawmakers to repeal no-excuse absentee voting. 

The activists would end a provision of Act 77 of 2019, a law passed by the state’s Republican-controlled General Assembly, which permits Keystone State residents to vote via absentee or mail-in ballot without stating an excuse. Formerly, valid reasons for voting away from the polls mainly included out-of-town travel and illness. 

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Corman to Bannon: Election Integrity Will Be Paramount in Pennsylvania Gubernatorial Administration

Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore and gubernatorial candidate Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte) appeared on Steve Bannon’s War Room Thursday to discuss his proposed reforms to make elections more secure in his state.

Corman promised to call for a special legislative session on election-related legislation the day he takes office. Items he said he intends to address foremost are requiring identification of all voters, rescinding a state policy allowing people to vote by mail without submitting an excuse, banning absentee-ballot drop boxes and banning the use of private grants for election administration.

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Amistad Project Has Yet to Receive USPS Report on Ballots Allegedly Driven from New York to Pennsylvania

Shot of USPS vehicles

According to the director of the nonprofit Amistad Project, the U.S. Postal Service has yet to release a report on thousands of ballots allegedly driven from New York to Pennsylvania in 2020.

The allegations originated from York, PA resident Jesse Morgan, a driver who said he made out-of-state deliveries for a USPS contractor. In an affidavit signed on November 26, 2020 and in a press conference on December 1, 2020, Morgan described delivering 24 large cardboard boxes filled with trays containing “completed ballots” from Bethpage, NY to Lancaster, PA on October 21, 2020. 

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Pennsylvania Phyllis Schlafly Eagles Honor Flynn and Mastriano

LAFAYETTE HILL, Pennsylvania— Pennsylvania Phyllis Schlafly Eagles held their 2022 Awards Ceremony at the Green Valley Country Club just north of Philadelphia on Friday, honoring Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn and state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Gettysburg).

“I am absolutely honored to be here,” Flynn told the crowd. “It’s really amazing for me to be up at this dais with this great group of people here.”

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Arizona Attorney General’s Report Recommends Election Reforms Similar to Those Sought in Pennsylvania

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) released a report this week on elections in his state—focusing especially on Maricopa County—advocating similar election reforms to those Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers currently seek.

While the report did not make criminal allegations regarding recent elections, it did declare that Arizona’s election system suffers from major procedural vulnerabilities including insufficient time to confirm signatures on ballots submitted during early voting and problems with the chain of custody for ballots placed in drop boxes. Altogether, the attorney general estimates that between 100,000 and 200,000 early ballots were transported without proper protocol being followed.

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Montgomery County, Pennsylvania Denies That Ballot Harvesting Occurred

A Montgomery County, Pennsylvania administrator this week responded to the local Republican Party’s allegations of “ballot harvesting,” insisting that video surveillance does not show that it occurred.

As The Pennsylvania Daily Star reported, Montgomery County Republican Committee (MCRC) Chair Liz Preate Havey addressed the county Board of Commissioners last Thursday regarding numerous election-integrity concerns. She mentioned video footage of a woman depositing handfuls of ballots into a drop box in Upper Dublin Township in the run-up to the 2021 general election. Such drop boxes have been in use in Pennsylvania for absentee-ballot delivery since 2020. 

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Montgomery County, Pennsylvania GOP Asks Commissioners to Consider Election Reforms

NORRISTOWN, PA—Montgomery County, Pennsylvania’s Republican Party yesterday asked the county’s Democrat-controlled Board of Elections to consider several election-security measures, mainly regarding absentee voting.

At a County Commissioners’ meeting, Montgomery County Republican Committee (MCRC) Chair Liz Preate Havey said the reforms her organization proposes will curb alleged breaches of law and foulups in administration that have already taken place in the county during recent elections.

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Tea Party Patriots Action Tours Pennsylvania to Champion Election Integrity

Tea Party Patriots Action (TPPA), a national conservative nonprofit, began a tour of Pennsylvania Monday to emphasize the importance of election integrity.

TPPA kicked off the trek in Grove City and has since visited Du Bois, State College and Altoona. The organization plans to push eastward, penultimately visiting Philadelphia on March 29 and finally the state capital of Harrisburg on March 30. At each stop, organizers will impress upon audiences the need for both legislative reforms and for citizen involvement to improve voting and vote-count processes. Toward that end, TPPA is recruiting citizens for local election integrity task forces to aid area elections.

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Ruling Against No-Excuse Mail-In Voting in Pennsylvania Appealed

Although Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court on Friday invalidated the law that has allowed no-excuse mail-in voting since 2020, the state’s appeal of the ruling means the decision is not yet in effect.

State officials, represented by Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro, will likely face a much friendlier forum in the state Supreme Court, which is controlled by Democrats in contrast to the Republican-majority Commonwealth Court. Democrats denounced the latter court’s ruling and pointed out that Republican legislators overwhelmingly voted for Act 77, which allowed Pennsylvanian’s who were not sick, injured or out of town to vote via absentee ballot.

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Senate Bill Would Reform Pennsylvania Mail-In Voting

A Pennsylvania Senate committee passed legislation Tuesday to make absentee-ballot canvassing more transparent, clarify ballot-submission deadlines and allow signature “curing” on mail-in-ballot envelopes.

Sen. Judy Ward (R-Hollidaysburg) said her reforms address concerns raised especially by the 2020 presidential election. The Senate State Government Committee advanced the bill in a party-line vote, with Republicans approving and Democrats opposed.

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Pauses Examination of Fulton County Voting Machines

Pennsylvania Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee contractor Envoy Sage cannot yet gather data from Fulton County’s election devices according to a Friday order of the state Supreme Court.

That directive stays part of a recent Commonwealth-Court ruling that allows the investigation to proceed. Fulton County’s commissioners have voted to comply with the Senate probe, which is part of a broader examination of the 2020 and 2021 Pennsylvania elections and has been spearheaded by the committee’s Republican Chairman Cris Dush (R-Wellsboro). The Democrat-run Pennsylvania Department of State and the voting machines’ manufacturer Dominion Voting Systems are litigating to stop it.

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Pennsylvania Courts Deal Blows to Progressives on Election Review and Redistricting

Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court green-lighted the state Senate Republicans’ election probe this week; the state Supreme Court has meanwhile declined to take up the remapping of congressional districts. 

As a result of the Commonwealth Court’s ruling, the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee may proceed with its subpoenas of voter records. The Supreme Court’s decision means Gov. Tom Wolf (D) will likely have to work out a compromise with the Republican state legislature on congressional reapportionment.

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Pennsylvania Democrats Recall January 6 to Push Legislative Agenda, Slam Election Integrity Legislation

Yesterday, Democrats in Pennsylvania and beyond recalled the Jan. 6, 2021 D.C-Capitol riot as an occasion to denounce voter-ID proposals and urge progressive reforms.

“Here’s the truth,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro told an online audience at a panel hosted by leftist organizations including Better PA and the New Pennsylvania Project. “You can draw a straight line between the lies [and former President Donald Trump’s post-2020-election] litigation to the events of January the sixth. And now, you can continue that straight line to voter-suppression laws that are being passed by Republicans in state houses across the country.”

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Pennsylvania Decision Against Counting Undated Mail Ballots Prompts Supreme Court Appeal

Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court this week ruled that 257 flawed ballots in a Lehigh County judgeship election cannot be counted, prompting Democratic candidate Zachary Cohen to announce a state Supreme-Court appeal. 

Excluding these mail-in ballots, which contain no date on their return envelopes, puts Republican David Ritter 74 votes ahead of Cohen in their contest for Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas judge, in which about 22,000 total votes were cast. Ritter initially sued in county court to exclude 261 ballots, four of which displayed a date, albeit not on the correct line. Trial Judge Edward D. Reibman (D) handed down a ruling favorable to Cohen, spurring Ritter to appeal to the Commonwealth Court which handles litigation between governing entities, public officials and candidates. 

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Ruling in Pennsylvania Election-Investigation Lawsuit Expected to Come Soon

exterior of Pennsylvania Judicial Court

Pennsylvania’s Commonwealth Court is expected to soon issue a decision on whether the state Senate Republicans’ 2020 election probe may continue.

Specifically, the judges must determine whether delivery of information subpoenaed by the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee would breach voters’ privacy rights as state Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) and other plaintiffs maintain.

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Voter-Integrity Amendments Pass the Pennsylvania House

A set of amendments to the Pennsylvania Constitution, including a voter-identification requirement, passed the state House of Representatives this week on nearly party-line votes.

To become part of the state Constitution, the proposed amendments must pass in two consecutive sessions of the Pennsylvania General Assembly and must gain approval by a majority of voters in an election. State House members voted on these measures as amendments to a Senate bill that would let gubernatorial candidates select their own running mates, whereas current law lets Pennsylvanians vote to elect nominees for lieutenant governor.

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Pennsylvania Bill to Restrict Private Money in Election Administration Passes House

Republican legislation to stop private organizations from donating selectively to Pennsylvania localities’ election activities passed the state House of Representatives along party lines yesterday. 

State Reps. Eric Nelson (R-Greensburg), Clint Owlett (R-Wellsboro) and James Struzzi (R-Indiana) offered the bill after revelations that the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) issued grants to counties last year, with much more money reaching Democrat-heavy areas. Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan contributed $350 million to CTCL in 2020. Former Obama Foundation Fellow Tiana Epps-Johnson serves as the organization’s executive director.

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Amendments Fail to Water Down Pennsylvania Bill to Restrict Private Money in Election Administration

State Rep. Eric Nelson

Pennsylvania Democratic lawmakers failed to pass a series of amendments Monday to weaken a state House bill that would restrict the ability of private third parties to fund election administration.

State Rep. Eric Nelson (R-Greensburg) is sponsoring the bill largely in reaction to the role that the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) played in election operations in numerous Pennsylvania counties last year. Grants bestowed by CTCL in 2020, which mostly aided Democrat-leaning counties, were funded significantly by Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg.

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Video Captures Delaware County, Pennsylvania Election Workers Discussing Concealing ‘Derogatory’ Information

Video recordings emerged on Friday capturing conversations between Delaware County, Pennsylvania election workers about obscuring “derogatory” information regarding the November 3, 2020 election. 

The footage was secretly recorded by whistleblower Regina Miller and is among numerous recordings serving as evidence in litigation alleging multiple violations of election law as well as Pennsylvania’s “Right to Know” statute. Plaintiffs Gregory Stenstrom, Leah Hoopes and Ruth Morin filed the lawsuit in Delaware County Court in November. 

The suit maintains that former Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar, Delaware County, the county’s Board of Elections, and numerous election officials conspired to dispose of voting records to conceal election-law violations. Four counts made in the litigation assert that public officials destroyed evidence, breaching state civil law regarding fraud and failing to adequately answer a right-to-know request filed by a third-party attorney in May. 

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Former Pennsylvania State Senator Bruce Marks, Who Worked with John Eastman, Denounces Call for Investigation

Former Pennsylvania State Sen. Bruce Marks, who worked alongside John Eastman as an attorney for Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign, is speaking out against a left-leaning organization’s call for the California bar to investigate Eastman.

In an interview with The Pennsylvania Daily Star, Marks averred that Eastman was “completely right and completely wrong” in authoring memoranda on Vice President Mike Pence’s prospective role in certifying the 2020 Electoral College count. Marks said Eastman had a right to advise Trump and make his advice known to Pence, though the former lawmaker differed strongly with Eastman’s assertions about whether Pence could take action for a Trump win while presiding over the Senate’s count of electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021.

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Head of Envoy Sage Promises Unbiased Investigation of Pennsylvania Elections

Woman voting at booth

In a call with reporters this week, the president of the firm selected to conduct a probe of recent elections in Pennsylvania promised a nonpartisan effort to determine what facets of election security in the Keystone State need improvement.

“We have no preconceived notions of what we will or will not find,” said Steven Lahr, president of Dubuque, IA-based Envoy Sage. “The facts, as they are gathered, both digital and physical, will drive our investigative services. We will handle all concerns, data or information presented by the citizens of the Commonwealth through the [investigation] website, or to us by the committee, with fidelity, due diligence and the utmost discretion.”

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‘It’s a Felony:’ A New Lawsuit, with Video Evidence, Alleges Delaware County, Pennsylvania Election Officials Destroyed Voting Records

A lawsuit alleging multiple violations of federal and state election laws as well as Pennsylvania’s “Right to Know” statute was filed in Pennsylvania Wednesday night, according to sources familiar with the litigation.

In early 2021, a whistleblower working for the Delaware County Bureau of Elections began inquiring why it was apparent to her that multiple documents pertaining to the Nov. 3, 2020 elections were being destroyed in the southeastern Pennsylvania county, the sources said. The name of the whistleblower has not yet been made public.

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Bill to Require Post-Election Audits in Pennsylvania Advances with Support of Philadelphia Democrat

State Rep. Regina Young (D-PA-Philadelphia) voted with all Republican House State Government Committee members this week in favor of a bill to require post-election audits. 

The legislation to verify the accuracy of election outcomes will thus go before the full Pennsylvania House with at least a modicum of bipartisanship, making it more difficult for Democrats to call the bill merely “a reactionary thing being done because of the last election,” as Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia) did at the committee meeting.

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