Smucker: Why I stood up for voters who questioned the election in Pa. (opinion)

Lloyd Smucker

Every American deserves to be confident that our elections are secure and that all eligible votes are counted efficiently and in a transparent manner. On the morning of January 7, 2021, I stood up for the voters in my congressional district who, like me, had concerns about the unconstitutional, last-minute changes made to the election in Pennsylvania.

My concerns, and ultimately my objection to accepting Pennsylvania’s presidential electors, are not about fraud, but rather the unconstitutional measures taken by unelected bureaucrats and partisan justices in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania which have caused millions of our state’s voters to question the election. The state constitution makes it very clear that only the state legislature can make changes to election law; not the Secretary of State nor the State Supreme Court. And make no mistake, Pennsylvania Democrats and media outlets are purposefully conflating claims of ‘fraud’ and claims that they abused their roles and mismanaged the election. They are not the same.

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker

The most egregious example is the undisputed fact that guidance on the “curing” of ballots from outgoing Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar resulted in unequal treatment of voters from counties across the Commonwealth. Voters in Lancaster County could have had their mail-in ballot dismissed if it was not submitted following the letter of the law. However, in other counties, voters were contacted by political party representatives or county elections officials to correct these errors. The disparate treatment of voters in the same state violates the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. Two cases remain before the United States Supreme Court on these issues. How would Democrats have responded if this happened under a Republican gubernatorial administration?

The media takes their bias even further by equating the raising of objections regarding the constitutionality of the disparate treatment of voters from my home state to sedition, the latest charge adopted to malign and silence those with legitimate concerns. That claim is patently false. The objections I raised and the process by which these objections were considered are established by law. Some claim that my actions were unconstitutional, which is also patently false.

There was no media outrage at the objection to Ohio’s electoral votes being challenged in 2005 or at the 9 attempts of House Democrats to challenge states President Trump won in the 2016 presidential election. The selective hysteria is a well-coordinated and hypocritical attack to malign and discredit Republicans.

My vote to reject Pennsylvania’s electors was unrelated to the abhorrent events that occurred the evening before. These actions were despicable, I condemn them in the strongest terms possible and hope those perpetrators are brought to justice. It is extremely disappointing that individuals were fed false claims and were led to believe that the election outcome could have changed. There was never a chance of that happening. However, the actions by extremists on January 6th did not change the constitutional questions about the administration of the election in Pennsylvania.

We must move forward as a nation and build confidence of voters from all political party affiliations in our electoral process.

We cannot, every four years, have tens of millions of individuals doubt the outcome of a presidential election. I fear that part of the distrust with the process in Pennsylvania is the sheer smug incredulity of Boockvar, who despite confirming the need for changes to Pennsylvania’s election laws, has called legislative hearings to review her actions “charades”.

This is inexcusable at a time when recent polling suggests nearly half of Pennsylvanian voters are not fully confident in the results. Now that Gov. Wolf has the ability to nominate a new secretary, after Boockvar’s resignation, he should nominate someone who is dedicated to rebuilding trust.

Reestablishing voter confidence should not be a partisan exercise and I will do my part to ensure that it is not. To that end, I have introduced legislation, the Voter Confidence Act, to establish a bipartisan and bicameral commission to review the practices and policies of federal, state and local election officials and the impact they had on the security and integrity of the election. The COVID-19 pandemic also unquestionably impacted election administration last year. This commission would share best practices for administering elections during pandemics or other national emergencies, ensuring security of mail-in or absentee ballots, and bolstering confidence in the integrity of future elections.

Rep. Lloyd Smucker represents Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District, which includes part of York County, and serves on the House Committee on Ways and Means.