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Candidates running for key Pa. election posts wrongly believe 2020 presidential race was stolen

Regional problems remain heavy

Scherrer, a county commissioner candidate for Butler County, told Votebeat and Spotlight PA that his belief that the 2020 election was unfair and that elections in general were susceptible to manipulation influenced his choice to run. He said it contained “many” elements.

“This is definitely a priority on my list because there are so many polls across the country that say 50-60% of people think their votes aren’t counted,” he said. said. “Honestly, I think it’s a big problem. [in Butler]”

If elected, he said he would act on that conviction, investigate the internet connections of voting machines, and move to counting ballots by hand in his ideal world.

But not all commissioner candidates have made electoral issues part of their campaigns. Votebeat and Spotlight PA found that about a third of candidates made a statement at some point related to how the election was conducted, but many more said they were on more local issues. Focused.

For example, this review found no relevant statements from any of Clarion County’s seven county commissioner candidates. And one of her candidates who responded to the Votebeat and Spotlight PA surveys gave her thoughts on why.

“As long as candidates like Trump and Kari Lake are in the news, they’re going to be talked about, but people aren’t talking about them locally,” said Braxton White, a Democrat. “The issues people are talking about now are emergency services and broadband. [good] to adjust it locally. “

Marianne Schneider, senior voting policy adviser for the ACLU in Pennsylvania, said the 45 candidates identified by Votebeat and Spotlight PA may seem like a lot, but not all of them make it through the primary. and, if it does pass, it occupies less than a quarter of the state’s 180 commissioner seats.

Still, who wins seats will directly affect electoral policy over the next four years, including the crucial 2024 presidential election cycle, she said.

Peter Bondi, managing director of Informing Democracy, a nonprofit focused on the vote-counting process, said voters should be concerned about what the group calls “anti-democratic” officials. Stated.

“In the aftermath of the 2022 election, we have seen many stories focused on stakeholders across the state who are playing key roles in our election,” Bondy said. “Certainly statewide actors have a big role to play, but the reality is that it is primarily county-level workers and county-level officials who actually control the elections.”

a Recent reports from the group We have identified over 200 such “anti-democratic” officials, including 36 at the county level in Pennsylvania. Informing democracy is defined as an attempt to undermine elections.

Greenberg, a former election administrator turned policy adviser, emphasized that the reason commissioners have become so influential in recent years is the ambiguity of Pennsylvania’s election laws.

Act 77, the 2019 law that created postal ballots without justification, has raised questions such as whether countries can allow “amendment of ballots,” a step that allows voters to correct errors in mail ballots. It is not clear about some elements of election administration. As a result, the law effectively leaves decisions about these policies to the county and thus to the commissioner.

Moreover, such commissioners have not set deadlines for states to certify elections, and actual results for counties that do not provide certification to states within the required timeframe are not included, Greenberg said. . States seeking relief through the courts.

Last spring, three counties — Burks, Fayette, and Lancaster — refused to include undated mail ballots in their accreditation primary election results. The incident was specifically mentioned in the Brennan Center report.

A state court eventually forced the county to complete certification, but The incident caused concern In the future, county boards may refuse to certify results if they disagree with the rules or results of elections. I am running.

“After all, it feels good without a gap” [in the law] I’m optimistic because the Court will be there as a backstop to all of this when it’s filled by the General Assembly or by all those elected,” Greenberg said.

At least one of the outgoing commissioners shared his optimism for another reason.

Columbia County Republican Commissioner Chris Young said he has overseen elections for 24 years as a member of the Election Commission and has learned that many people win by simply saying what they have to say. But I’m sick of hearing that elections are controlled by “secret groups” when in fact they are run by “our neighbors and friends.”

But he added that he doesn’t think candidates pushing conspiracy theories are really dangerous. Young believes that if he wins, many people will simply “say he’s magically gotten better.”

“They are not going to change the system,” he said. “Because the system is so good.”

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