As with many of our nation’s institutions, faith in our election system has been badly shaken. Real or not, a substantial segment of the American electorate believes or suspects that there was significant voter fraud in the 2020 Presidential election. Pennsylvania has been at the epicenter of this distrust and Governor Tom Wolf deserves much of the blame.
The erosion of confidence in our elections began in 2016 when, in shock over the upset victory of Donald Trump, the Left began perpetrating a four year lie that Russian collusion was somehow responsible for influencing the election outcome. Those claims dogged Trump throughout his term even though they were disproven at every turn.
Determined not to let Trump win another term in the White House, the Left did what it always does when it can’t win – it changed the rules. Taking full advantage of the COVID pandemic gripping the nation, many states – including Pennsylvania – changed election rules with little heed given to ballot security.
When irregularities surfaced the Left, ably aided by its legacy media allies, immediately went to work shutting down any effort at verifying the results. The President’s legal teams proved to be largely inept, thus the court room maneuvering never lived up to his rhetoric further advantaging the Left’s arguments that election fraud was a “big lie.”
Rather than seek to verify the tally, the brick wall erected by the Left has resulted in tens of millions of Americans viewing the Biden presidency as illegitimate. Worse, confidence in our electoral process has been shaken to the core.
The time has come to make sure this never happens again. That is what states across the country are working to do. To further solidify the rule changes that have led to the current crisis, the Left sought to federalize election law. This resulted in an attempted power grab by congressional Democrats who proposed the “For the People Act,” more appropriately dubbed the “Corrupt Politicians Act,” to take election law away from the states. It was blatantly unconstitutional, and U.S. Senate Republicans successfully blocked the measure.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of the United States at the end of June issued a ruling upholding an Arizona statute that prohibits anyone other than a close relative or caregiver from collecting mail-in ballots. That essentially outlaws “ballot harvesting,” which is the unlimited and unsecure collection of multiple ballots by a third party. The court also found that another measure designed to prevent fraud: requiring a voter to vote in the precinct in which he/she is registered, was also constitutional.
The Left labels any effort at ballot security as the trampling of “voting rights.” That of course is absurd as prudent measures to ensure the electorate is composed of only live people voting once is necessary for there to be confidence in the outcome.
Here in Penn’s Woods frequent and inconsistently applied election rules issued by the Wolf Administration contributed to Election Day confusion and the destruction of public trust in 2020 elections. To address the problem lawmakers in the state House held a series of ten hearings to learn what went wrong and consider potential reforms.
The result was the Pennsylvania Voting Rights Protection Act. The Act provided for early in-person voting, the formal legal recognition and regulation of ballot drop boxes, five additional days of time for county election bureaus to tabulate mail-in ballots, the protection of voting rights for handicapped and older Pennsylvanians, enhanced voter identification requirements, and historic amounts of funding for election administration.
The Act was passed by the legislature and sent to Governor Tom Wolf – who vetoed it. Thus does the governor continue his complicity in undermining confidence in our electoral system by failing to take common sense and widely supported reforms needed to streamline the system and ensure a secure process.
Wolf is contributing to what is the actual “big lie” in the election debate – that fair and secure elections are somehow a violation of voting rights. Our representative republic cannot properly function if We the People do not have confidence that those whom we elect to represent us arrived in office by legitimate means.
Tom Wolf through word and deed both before and after the 2020 election has prevented Pennsylvania from arriving at a point where our elections are both secure and accessible. The legislature must now go back to the drawing board to craft new laws, and use the constitutional amendment process, to restore confidence in our elections.
(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal and American Radio Journal. His e-mail address is [email protected].)
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