Last year, the Public Interest Legal Foundation alerted the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to an alarming fact: the state’s voter rolls contained at least 21,000 dead registrants, some of whom had died more than twenty years ago.  According to the records, hundreds of these dead registrants had votes recorded in the 2016 and 2018 elections.

The Foundation sued the Pennsylvania Department of State. In a settlement reached just last week, the department agreed to remove the names of dead voters, implement procedures to identify registrants who have died and keep the Foundation apprised of its ongoing efforts to keep the voter rolls honest.  

I wonder when former President Obama will tweet out his congratulations for this win for voting rights?

Of course, that question is a rhetorical one because while Obama frequently weighs in on such election issues, he does so with a complete lack of understanding of election integrity and law. 

While Obama frequently weighs in on such election issues, he does so with a complete lack of understanding of election integrity and law. 

He recently tweeted congratulations to Major League Baseball “for taking a stand on behalf of voting rights for all citizens.” He apparently approves of the league removing the All-Star Game from Atlanta due to dubious complaints about Georgia’s voting law. Putting aside the hypocrisy of someone with a net worth of $70 million who will not be affected by the crushing economic loss of moving this beloved sporting event, I was struck by Obama’s apparent ignorance of how voting laws should work.

By summarily condemning Georgia’s election law, Obama and others who jumped on similarly high horses, dismiss a basic tenet of voting rights: making sure an individual’s vote does not become diluted by one that should have not been cast. Tweeting out vague and misguided platitudes might garner headlines and retweets but real election reform requires thoughtfulness and legal prudence. 

In a participatory democratic republic such as ours, the sanctity of voting rights cannot be understated. States attempt to protect those rights by drafting election laws aimed at preventing fraud and malfeasance. If our election laws are poorly drafted or not followed, we open the door to mistakes, irregularities and even fraud. And when that happens, taking back a vote that should not have been placed in the ballot box can perhaps be compared to dismantling a cake after it has been baked. 

The Georgia election law controversy highlights an important but sad reality: those who squawk the most about protecting elections are usually the most ill-informed.

Lawyers who devote their practices to election integrity and voting rights issues toil away to make sure states maintain their voter rolls and follow the law. The general public might think election lawyers only come out of hiding for highly publicized, contested elections. But the reality involves maintaining the fight for fairness 365 days per year. 

The Georgia election law controversy highlights an important but sad reality: those who squawk the most about protecting elections are usually the most ill-informed. I would even hazard a guess that Obama, like the Commissioner of Major League Baseball, never read the Georgia law or could even explain exactly what voting rights it supposedly endangered. Meanwhile, the Public Interest Legal Foundation claimed a monumental victory that actually protects real, live voters from having their vote diluted. I will take that as a stand on behalf of citizens over Major League Baseball’s silly virtue signalling any day.

Linda A. Kerns is an attorney and a co-founder of Broad + Liberty.  She is Pennsylvania counsel to the Public Interest Legal Foundation and its president, J. Christian Adams.  Along with Bradley J. Schlozman and John Eastman, she secured the settlement discussed in this piece.  She can be reached at @lindakernslaw.

5 thoughts on “Linda A. Kerns: Foundation forces PA to remove 21,000 dead registrants from voter rolls”

  1. Thank you for your patriotism and commitment to our Constitutional rights, Linda! My husband and I live in Pennsylvania and are so distraught regarding the blatant fraud and violation of election laws that occurred during the presidential election on 11/3/20, but few of our elected officials even seem the least bit concerned about upholding our election laws or the state or federal Constitution! We are so grateful that you have taken this action to force our state officials to do the right thing. It is sad that officials who are elected to represent us have to be forced via law suits to uphold the law and do the right thing for the people they represent! Thank you, thank you, thank you, and God bless you for standing up for the people of Pennsylvania!

  2. Can you please explain how making it illegal to give water and food to people waiting in line to vote makes the voting process more secure?

    1. I believe that nobody should be approached while waiting in line to vote because the person approaching them could be using this time to make a political statement try to change the persons vote. Or to threaten them with violence or other outcomes if they don’t change their vote. If they really just want to pass out water and snacks then leave a cooler with cold water on a table along with snacks on a table nearby. There is no reason for them to have to speak to waiting voters.

      1. Under GA new law leaving a cooler would be in violation of the law. It is even illegal for people to receive food and water from their friends and family while they are waiting in line to vote. With that being said I’m still unclear how somebody’s family member coming by and giving them water while they are waiting line to vote makes the voting process more secure. I have also yet to see any data or research to show that it does either.

  3. Under the PA Election Code, handing out food & water to voters in line is considered electioneering and is prohibited, regardless if the person offering is a candidate or an non-partisan organization. Further, I have been voting for over 50 years and have never once found a situation where voters are falling over from hunger or thirst while waiting to vote. If one is that disabled, there is always absentee voting. In my opinion, your remarks are a soft approach to electioneering and are unwarranted. Voting is a civic duty, not a block party.

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