Election Denier Advances to PA’s 2023 General Election Spotlight PA

This article Spotlight PAcollaboration with vote beat, a bipartisan news agency covering local election administration and voting. This article may be reprinted subject to the following conditions: Votebeat reissue policy.

Fewer than half of the local candidates identified by Votebeat and Spotlight PA who alleged election fraud or raised questions about the security of the election won the mid-May primary. . But the majority of the elected candidates are now expected to win the November election, putting them in a position to determine how the county will operate in the 2024 election.

Of the 18 candidates (all Republicans) for county commissioners and county councils who won the primary, eight said the 2020 election was stolen, fraudulent, or conspired against former President Donald Trump. I even said it was. To steal elections.

The primary results have not yet been certified, and write-in and provisional voting could affect some results, such as the narrow gap between Huntingdon and Potter counties.

Trump is the leading contender for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. He and other candidates have repeatedly said they will continue to argue that the election is tainted with fraud, even if there is no evidence. This again calls for county commissioners and other local officials in key battleground states like Pennsylvania to support such claims, especially those who have suggested they are prepared to support such claims. It means that you may be under pressure to do so.

With that in mind, experts say it’s good news. Majority of local candidates promoting false election claims and conspiracy theories Didn’t win.

“In some areas, especially in some counties where county commissioners were involved in election conspiracy theories, it felt like voters were clearly prioritizing what was important to them regarding county leaders.” said Jeff Greenberg, former election director for the City of Mercer. The County currently serves as a Senior Election Advisor to the Philadelphia-based Committee of the Non-Profit Seventies. “So I think that in itself was positive.”

Still, some people won. And most of the 18 candidates who won won primaries in counties where Republicans had better registrations than Democrats, meaning they’re still favorites to win in November. there is

In Butler, Lancaster and Schuylkill counties, candidates who have alleged election fraud or raised questions about election security are likely to have a majority on the committee.

Commissioners locate precincts, set election budgets, hire election officials, and employ election commissioners until state law changes or a court decides otherwise. make important decisions about the rules voters followwhether a mail ballot can be submitted via dropbox, or whether a defective mail ballot will be given the opportunity to be corrected.

Their beliefs about elections will guide their decisions.

Lackawanna County Commissioner Chris Charmack said mail-in ballots and mailboxes are convenient but “another way to fool the system.” Another incumbent Republican commissioner in Lancaster County, Ray D’Agostino, said allowing voters to correct signature and date errors on their vote-by-mail ballots violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. suggested.

Bradford County Commissioner Doug Mallinco has repeatedly underscored President Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was rigged. unfairly won And has helped organize other activists for this cause.

“I have good news,” he said told the crowd last spring Meanwhile, he is working with Trump ally Creta Mitchell to mobilize an army of pollsters. “Donald Trump didn’t lose Pennsylvania. He didn’t lose Pennsylvania.”

playing cards actually lost Pennsylvania.

Marianne Schneider, a senior voting rights policy adviser at the ACLU in Pennsylvania, is encouraged that only 18 such candidates have won, and counties such as Lancaster, in particular, are among such candidates. said he believed some people weren’t guaranteed a victory in November. Voter demographics have changed.

“So the message I want to get across is that people really need to understand who’s on the ballot and go vote,” she said.

many people fall short

At least one incumbent elections official breathed a sigh of relief after Tuesday’s results.

Melanie Ostrander, election manager for Washington County in the Far West, said: recently told Bloomberg News The primary result could put her position in jeopardy.

Ashley Duff, who led efforts in the county on behalf of the electoral conspiracy group Audit the Vote PA, has long been a major proponent of voter fraud conspiracy theories in the county. After regularly quarreling with Mr. Ostrander at public rallies, she decided to stand for election.

Audit the Vote PA raised her bid, but she still fell short.

“I always worry when a new board is formed, but thankfully the election naysayers didn’t win,” Ostander said after the results were announced. “It’s good for the county. [commissioners] Until 2024, it will be under control. ”

Meanwhile, incumbent Commissioners Kimberly Geyer and Leslie Oshe retained their seats in nearby Butler County. Both have expressed doubts about the security of the election, going so far as to order a partial manual recount of the 2020 election last August, but have taken a more extreme stand against the primary opposition. .

Among them is Zach Scherrer, 20, leader of the Butler County “Patriots” group affiliated with Audit the Vote PA. Recently featured in the New York Times And denied the legitimacy of Mr. Biden’s victory.

Scherrer – In a Facebook post, the election results were controlled by the government and said:All preselected— Telling Votebeat and Spotlight PA that his position in the election was a factor in his loss, but he believes the main reason was his relationship with the school board. caught up in scandal.

“I think it’s probably quite possible.” [voters] They’re trying to get past the electoral honesty side of things,” Scherrer said.

Incumbent prevails

Lancaster County is one of three counties likely to have a majority on the commission who have alleged election fraud or questioned the security of the election, and has already raised concerns and lawsuits.

Incumbent Commissioner Josh Parsons, who won the primary, has long criticized Section 77, which allows mail-in ballots with no excuses. Mr. Parsons and Mr. D’Agostino, another Republican commissioner who also won the primary, have made controversial decisions about voting policy together.

last spring, ACLU sues Lancaster County He did not inform voters in advance that the county’s only mailbox would be removed. Under Mr. Parsons and Mr. D’Agostino, the Office of the Secretary also consults frequently with the State Department. Last summer, the county was one of three counties to refuse to include undated ballots in the proof of primary results, and then sued by the ministry.

The lawsuit resulted in concern In the future, county commissioners may refuse to certify results if they disagree with the rules or results of the election. A majority of the two members of the committee may decline.

The county lost both cases.

Schuylkill County also likely has a majority of electoral skeptics, but it’s less clear how they will approach the election problem.

Larry Padra is one of two Republican candidates moving forward. “I believe,” he said on Facebook.[s] There was fraud in the 2020 election,” he said, adding that he knew “factually” that the Democrats had cheated. He defeated incumbent George Halcovage, but Votebeat and Spotlight PA couldn’t find a similar statement.

If he wins the general election, Padra will join incumbent Commissioner Barron Hetherington, who signed the Declaration of Integrity in Elections. in 2022 The statement claimed, without evidence, that “Pennsylvania’s move to mail-in and drop-box voting has seriously undermined the integrity of the electoral process.”

Mr. Greenberg, of the Committee of Seventy, said it’s one thing to criticize an election as a candidate and be responsible for running it.

“If many of these people took their place and learned the intricacies of electoral administration, it would help alleviate many of the issues, and the courts would act as a backstop for future issues,” he said. rice field. “From the outside, it’s a very different thing to criticize an election and the people who run it.” [compared to] When you are responsible for election administration. ”

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