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. 

“Whereas electoral integrity is essential to the functioning of a constitutional republic,” the declaration began, “and … Whereas, the move to mail-in and drop-box voting in Pennsylvania has seriously undermined the integrity of the electoral process … We the People of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania do hereby demand that the Pennsylvania state legislature immediately return the Commonwealth to in-person voting on election day, with the exceptions as noted in the PA election code prior to ACT 77, with photo identification, proof of U.S. citizenship and state residency and hard copy paper ballots.”

Announcements about how the coalition plans to encourage lawmakers to reverse the policy will likely be made in the coming days, Sam Faddis, president of Susquehanna County-based Unite PA, told The Pennsylvania Daily Star. 

Faddis said the impetus to demand that legislators reverse the expansion of absentee voting stems from concerns he and many other coalition members have regarding the 2020 presidential election in Pennsylvania in which Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by about 80,000 votes. Faddis described the result as “at best, highly questionable.”

“We went from a pretty tried-and-true system based on the foundation of in-person voting very rapidly to a system of mail-in voting with very few checks and just, from my viewpoint, a kind of endless series of points of vulnerability,” he said.

Faddis cited a 2005 report of the Commission on Federal Election Reform co-chaired by Democratic former President Jimmy Carter and Republican former Secretary of State James A. Baker III. The report asserted that “absentee ballots remain the largest source of voter fraud” and cited a 1998 Miami mayoral election as evidence. 

Pennsylvania itself saw absentee-ballot-driven voter fraud turn an election in 1993 when Democrat William Stinson initially appeared to beat Republican Bruce Marks in a race for a Philadelphia-based state Senate seat. The following winter, federal Judge Clarence Newcomer found Stinson and several Democratic officials had orchestrated a voter-fraud scheme that resulted in the Democrat’s win; the judge overturned the result and declared Marks the victor.

Faddis said a number of GOP lawmakers have indicated they acknowledge that absentee ballots  make an electoral system more vulnerable and that they hope to repeal Act 77 (which nearly all of them initially voted for because of a provision eliminating straight-party voting). But, he added, many of them have done nothing to advance repeal. That, he said, is where his coalition will seek to generate movement.

“We have a bunch of people in the state capitol who, for a long time, have said they are supportive of the position of these patriot groups and yet have never done anything,” Faddis said. “They inhabit that middle ground that politicians love to inhabit where they don’t actually commit to anything and they say something that sounds like it’s positive. And we’re taking that away from them. … We will force the issue with every single one of them … . They either will be, from our perspective obviously, on the right side of this or they will have to stand up and say they oppose us.” 

A copy of the declaration has been sent to every member of the Pennsylvania House and Senate.

A few of the groups involved in the alliance that issued the declaration include Pennsylvania for America First, Berks County Patriots, Lehigh Valley Tea Party, PA Economic Growth PAC, Philadelphia Tea Party and the Council of American Patriots.

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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Pennsylvania Daily Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].


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