Rep. Grove Rebukes Pennsylvania Secretary of State’s ‘Voter Intimidation’ Claims

Pennsylvania State Representative Seth Grove (R-York) castigated the state’s Democratic acting secretary of the commonwealth on Saturday for suggesting that stationing Lehigh County detectives at ballot drop boxes will amount to “voter intimidation.” 

Acting Secretary of State Leigh Chapman last week said that tactics to intimidate voters have “a long history in this country” and that “the mere presence of police at a ballot drop box can deter voters from casting their ballot.” She also mentioned that she has been in conversation with her staff about attempting to dissuade Lehigh County from assigning law enforcement professionals to watch drop boxes into which absentee voters may place their ballots. 

In his response, Grove, who is sponsoring major reforms of Pennsylvania’s election system to prevent voter fraud and other violations, noted that Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin (R) recently reported that hundreds of residents likely broke the law by dropping off ballots other than their own. Since passing Act 77 in 2019, Pennsylvania has permitted all voters to cast mail-in or absentee ballots without providing an excuse such as injury or travel. Voters who cast ballots at their county election office or at a drop box can only drop off another person’s ballot if that person has a physical infirmity and has granted permission to the deliverer. 

Grove, who chairs the House State Government Committee, also rebuked former Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar (D) for advising counties that they could set up drop boxes although no statutory authority existed to permit them. 

“Having non-uniformed county detectives to prevent illegal voting doesn’t stop legal votes, it stops illegal votes,” Grove said in a statement. “I am dumbfounded that the top election official in the state would blatantly support illegal voting. I am also stunned by the top election official denouncing a county elected official who is using every tool to combat illegal voting in the commonwealth. Either the acting secretary isn’t knowledgeable of our election laws banning a person from submitting more than one ballot, or she is complicit in an attempt to ignore and undermine our election laws.”

Grove blamed the apparent failure to ensure security at drop boxes on Governor Tom Wolf’s (D) veto last year of an earlier version of the GOP lawmaker’s reforms which provided for drop box surveillance. Absent statewide legislation, he said, Lehigh and other counties should act on their own to ensure that the practice of a voter dropping off another’s ballot – known as ballot harvesting – does not continue.

“The detectives in Lehigh County will have one job: To make sure a voter only casts his or her ballot,” Grove said. “I commend Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin for taking this initiative to ensure state election law is followed.”

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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].
Photo “Seth Grove” by PA State Rep. Seth Grove. Photo “Leigh Chapman” by Pennsylvania Department of State. Background Photo “Election Day 2020” by Phil Roeder. CC BY 2.0.

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