Pennsylvania Democrats Want to Empower Lawyers, Not Voters

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A ruling last week by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court all but guaranteed that we will not know the results of the 2020 presidential election on the night of November 3. In response to challenges from the Pennsylvania Democratic Party, the court extended the deadline for acceptance of absentee ballots to three days after Election Day. That’s a prescription for trouble, because if this year’s primaries — in which more than half a million mail ballots were rejected — tell us anything, it’s that in-person voting remains the smartest way to go about presidential elections. 

Students of American political history can remember the controversy surrounding the 1960 presidential contest, when Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, to the benefit of John F. Kennedy, allegedly withheld votes on Election Night. Sixty years later, Pennsylvania is setting itself up for its own “count votes until you win” scenario.

Delayed results generate controversy and chaos. By arbitrarily extending the deadline for absentee ballots, Pennsylvania has opened the way for partisan legal teams to descend on the Keystone State. Is this how we want to conduct our elections, with lawyers fighting it out over what counts as a signature on a mail ballot? Does Pennsylvania want to subject the rest of the country to a drawn-out battle over which ballots to count and which to discard until December 15th, when the Electoral College convenes?

Democrats insist that President Trump has undermined American political institutions, but they’re the ones effectively changing the date of the election. Widespread voting by mail is being sold as “ending voter suppression.” In reality, it’s a power play by Pennsylvania Democrats to change the rules with fewer than 50 days to go. Our elections are no longer free and fair, and our electoral process no longer legitimate, when we make late-game changes to the rules.

Americans deserve to see their elections resolved in a swift and timely manner. The best way to do that is the old-fashioned way — voting in-person on Election Day. This year presents unique challenges, of course, with the Covid-19 pandemic, but Dr. Anthony Fauci himself has said repeatedly that with proper precautions, in-person voting is safe. Conversely, the U.S. Postal Service has a poor track record of delivering election mail even in good years. It makes no sense to believe that it could handle such an influx of election mail this year. 

Of course, we must always allow for some amount of absentee voting, but to actively encourage voters to cast their ballots by mail when most could otherwise vote in person opens the process up to corruption.

Pennsylvania’s Democratic Party officials know that the system in place for voting by mail is deeply flawed. It’s a system that can’t be fixed just months before an election. By pressing the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to extend the deadline for absentee ballots, Democrats are taking advantage of these weaknesses. In the name of defending democracy and the electoral process, they are doing the opposite — empowering lawyers, rather than American voters, to determine the result.

Adam Brandon is President of FreedomWorks. 

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