I read with interest – and no small amount of concern – Senator Cris Dush’s recent op-ed in this publication. It seems to me that the Senator is missing the point when he tries to reassure us all about the legislature’s need for our personal information to conduct an election audit, and that point is – there are already numerous audits and safeguards in place for our elections.

Prior to 2019, I agree that there was a major problem. Almost all ballots were 100% electronic; after the voter hit the “vote” button, there was absolutely no way to verify the tally. We simply had to trust the machine’s accuracy. That alone was concerning; but as we heard more and more about foreign interference in elections, it became clear that a paper trail was needed. To then-Representative Dush’s credit, he voted for Act 77 in 2019 – along with each and every one of his Republican colleagues – to require a paper ballot for all PA voters.

Since that time, election boards throughout the state perform a hand-count audit of a random sample of the ballots cast. In Clearfield, we do this on the Friday following the election, and it generally takes all day. Last fall, due to the sheer volume of ballots cast it took us almost two full days. Every county conducts this review, and to my knowledge, it is a bipartisan process in all of them. This count is open to the public, and in Clearfield we had several observers last November. In addition, the state conducts a “risk limiting audit” shortly after the election, with the assistance of county election offices – again, to ensure the results are accurate.

But let’s address the real elephant in the room here – Donald Trump. Peaceful transfer of power is a hallmark of a stable, healthy democracy. Even in 2000 – when Al Gore lost by under 1,000 votes (and by a single vote in the Supreme Court) –we had a respectful, peaceful transfer of power. Until Mr. Trump decided to run for office, charges of widespread election fraud and “rigged” outcomes were essentially unheard of in the modern era.

Unfortunately, Mr. Trump began widely circulating the notion that “the only way I can lose is if the election is rigged,” even before the votes were cast in 2016. He continued this dangerous rhetoric – without a shred of evidence – for the next 4 years, which ultimately culminated in the January 6 riots in our Capitol. After last November and continuing until very recently with the controversial third-party audit in Arizona, there have been multiple recounts and dozens of lawsuits across many states. Not one of these recounts or suits has uncovered massive errors, evidence of widespread fraud, or any ballot issues of significance.

And yet…we continue to hear that “the people need to be confident in the election process again.” Who eroded that confidence? None other than the very people who voted for election reform just two short years ago! Incidentally – those very same folks now have a bill on the table that would both greatly reduce local control over elections, AND create an entirely new “election audit” bureaucracy (read for yourself at https://legiscan.com/PA/bill/HB1800/2021).

I agree that we still need some minor changes to election law. The ability to “pre-canvass” mailed ballots would allow all counties to deliver more timely results. I have no issue with certain enhanced voter ID rules. There are plenty of issues ripe for constructive debate and reasonable compromise. But let’s be clear: There was no widespread fraud. There was no election conspiracy, and to even suggest that there was denigrates the integrity of our hard-working election personnel (many of whom are volunteers) across our county, our state, and the entire nation. It’s time to stop spreading these lies, and time for our leaders in Harrisburg to work together for the benefit of all Pennsylvanians.

Dave Glass

Clearfield County Commissioner, and member of the Clearfield County Election Board

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