Pennsylvania's Election Process is a "Dumpster Fire"

It’s been two weeks since Pennsylvania’s Primary Election, and we still don’t know which Republican U.S. Senate candidate will be on the November ballot.  Clearly, Pennsylvania’s elections are broken, and many would say that Act 77, Pennsylvania’s no-excuse mail voting law, is the culprit.

Its incessant election issues have earned Pennsylvania the title of the nation’s “dumpster fire of election administration,” according to Justin Riemer, the Founder of Riemer Law LLC and former RNC Chief Counsel, who authored a recent commentary in Real Clear Politics:

In its recent primary election, Pennsylvania was again in the news for all the wrong reasons. Pennsylvania voters and election officials continue to suffer because of Gov. Tom Wolf’s failure to negotiate with Republican legislators to fix the problems plaguing the state’s elections… That’s particularly unfortunate since Pennsylvania currently has the dubious distinction of being the nation’s dumpster fire of election administration. Simply put, its elections are in dire need of reform.

Pennsylvania's Primary Election was plagued by numerous issues.  There were troubling delays in reporting election results, including in the Republican U.S. Senate race.  Drop boxes were used differently across counties, leading to a lack of uniformity.  Philadelphia officials restricted poll observer access and prevented transparency.  Democrats urged courts to ignore a statutory requirement that voters date their absentee ballot envelopes, undermining integrity.  A widespread mail ballot printing error in Lancaster County, which wasn’t discovered until Election Day because election officials aren't able to process mail ballots until Election Day under Act 77, also caused severe issues. 

But unfortunately, these issues are nothing new.  And so long as Democrats––especially Governor Tom Wolf––keep refusing Republican efforts to fix these problems, they will continue to resurface every election due to Act 77’s fatal flaws.  According to Riemer:  

In 2021, Pennsylvania Republicans presented Gov. Wolf with legislation that would have introduced in-person early voting, promoted uniform voting practices across the state, and allowed for processing absentee ballots prior to Election Day to speed up the state’s notorious delays in reporting election results. It would also have tightly regulated private grant money which flooded unrestricted into the state in 2020. Wolf vetoed the legislation. Unfortunately, Pennsylvania voters continue to suffer for his intransigence.

Meanwhile, other states have embraced bipartisanship, passing meaningful election reforms to strengthen election integrity and avoiding the problems Pennsylvania can’t seem to get rid of.  While it may seem impossible in an age of extreme partisanship, states such as Arizona, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Virginia have recently passed meaningful election integrity reforms on a bipartisan basis.  Pennsylvania, on the other hand, will be unable to do so until Democrats are willing to compromise.

If Democrats can’t swallow their pride and work to the benefit of all Pennsylvanians, it will continue to be “untenable for…counties to continue to work in elections and not have problems like this,” as stated by Ray D’Agostino, the chairman of the Lancaster Board of Elections. 

Riemer said it best, “Pennsylvania must act now or it will again be a laughingstock and a lightning rod for controversy in future elections.