American Opinion: Blame Pennsylvania Republicans for delayed results in Keystone State
American Opinion: Elections should be won through the persuasion of voters, not suppression of their votes. The voting infrastructure is working. The results will be legitimate, whenever they may come — despite Republicans, not because of them.
We've been hearing for months that whoever wins Pennsylvania would win the White House.
We also knew that due to the pandemic and unprecedented turnout, counties would have to process a large number of mail ballots, the first general election that anyone in Pennsylvania was entitled to request one.
For months, local election officials, Republicans and Democrats, have been warning Harrisburg lawmakers of the burdens of state law — such as the inability to pre-canvass ballots ahead of Nov. 3 — all while Donald Trump made false and outrageous claims about the legitimacy of any results that would come after election night.
One would have expected that considering the leader of their party is demanding a swift count, Pennsylvania Republicans would do what they can to make sure that the 20 Electoral College votes of the Keystone State were allocated early.
But that would be wrong.
The effort to discredit the will of the people in this election started in Pennsylvania months ago. Republicans, who control the legislature, fought tooth and nail to make it as hard as possible for people to vote during a pandemic — filing lawsuits to remove ballot drop boxes and to disqualify votes postmarked on Election Day but that arrived in the days after. They refused to allow county elected officials to start processing mail-in ballots before Election Day, as states like Florida do.
In the week before the election, multiple Republican-led counties announced that they would not start counting mailed ballots until Wednesday — guaranteeing no result on election night and opening the door for Trump to try to dismiss votes not processed on Tuesday.
The attack on Pennsylvania's right to vote escalated when polls closed and the count started. Pennsylvania Republicans filed lawsuits against the commonwealth and specific counties to impose an extra burden on the count. Also on election night, state Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati and House Majority Leader Jake Corman called on Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar to "resign immediately" based on frivolous accusations.
The call for Boockvar to resign was a shameful attack on a public servant working to facilitate Pennsylvania's right to vote.
On Wednesday, as mail ballot counts continued to erode Trump's lead in Pennsylvania, Eric Trump, Rudy Giuliani and other Trump campaign surrogates descended on Philadelphia and vowed to halt the count. That effort proved successful for an hour or two on Thursday, when counting halted in Philadelphia briefly after a Commonwealth Court judge ruled that observers be allowed up to 6 feet from tables on which ballots are counted. The city resumed counting and appealed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, people all over the state took to the streets chanting to "count every vote" — a statement that shouldn't be partisan in a democracy.
The world had been waiting to learn the next president of the United States, a wait that would have been avoided if Pennsylvania Republicans allowed pre-canvassing and didn't constantly attempt to disrupt the count. (Joe Biden was declared the winner in Pennsylvania mid-morning Saturday by numerous networks, which put his electoral count over the 270 total making him president-elect.) Elections should be won through the persuasion of voters, not suppression of their votes. The voting infrastructure is working. The results will be legitimate, whenever they may come — despite Republicans, not because of them.
This editorial is the opinion of the Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial Board.
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