(The Center Square) – Senate Republican leaders said Tuesday night Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar should resign after giving contradictory guidance to counties about processing absentee ballots received after Nov. 3.
“The constantly changing guidance she has delivered to counties not only directly contradicts the Election Code language she is sworn to uphold, but also conflicts her own litigation statements and decisions of both the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and the United States Supreme Court,” Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, and President Pro Temp Joe Scarnati said.
The leaders’ complaints reference directives from the state issued over the weekend that counties should segregate ballots received after Tuesday as litigation pends before the Supreme Court of the United States about how those votes should be counted. Then, Boockvar encouraged local officials to canvass all ballots, meaning that votes received by Election Day would be “commingled” with late-arriving ballots, the leaders said.
“In some counties, it is not possible to both segregate and canvass ballots as directed,” the leaders said.
Also on Monday, the state told county election officials to reach out to voters with defective or invalid absentee ballots to alert them to come cast provisional ballots, instead. Some counties followed the guidance while others did not, the leaders said.
“This scattershot approach to Pennsylvania’s elections is wholly inappropriate and a direct breach of the positions she is on record of supporting in litigation – a position that [state Supreme Court] Justice [Max] Baer specifically said is best left to the legislative branch of Pennsylvania’s government,” Scarnati and Corman said. “As leaders, we simply cannot stand by and allow Kathy Boockvar’s blatant disregard for the legislative process and the law to continue.”
Boockvar encouraged local officials to canvass all ballots, meaning that votes received by Election Day would be ‘commingled’ with late-arriving ballots, the leaders said.
Boockvar said the leaders’ news release mischaracterizes the guidance her office has given and risked disenfranchising voters. She countered that the leaders should resign over their failure to broker a deal with Gov. Tom Wolf that would have allowed ballot pre-canvassing
“I have no intent to resign and I disagree with everything they said their release,” Boockvar said late Tuesday. “They don’t like the late counting of ballots because they don’t like anything that allows more voters to be enfranchised, so let’s be clear about that.”
About 64 percent of the nearly 3 million returned absentee ballots came from Democrats and only about 23 percent Republican, with the rest coming from smaller parties and independent voters, The Center Square reported earlier today. About 6 million residents voted in the 2016 election, meaning the half of the state’s voters potentially cast their ballots ahead of Election Day this year.
The record turnout means county election officials will spend the next few days tabulating results as the nation waits to see where Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes will land.
Christen Smith follows Pennsylvania’s General Assembly for The Center Square. She is an award-winning reporter with more than a decade of experience covering state and national policy issues for niche publications and local newsrooms alike.
This piece was originally published in The Center Square. Read the original article here.