The Pa. GOP doesn’t want your vote for president to count

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

It is becoming painfully clear that Pennsylvania Republicans do not want you to be able to vote for president in 2020. They literally support the end of representative democracy in favor of a minority political oligarchy.

From the word of state GOP chair Lawrence Tabas, who apparently has consulted with the Donald Trump campaign over the potential for taking the electoral decision away from the voters and placing in the hand of our highly incapable GOP legislators:

“I just don’t think this is the right time for me to be discussing those strategies and approaches, but [direct appointment of electors] is one of the options,” he told The Atlantic. “It is one of the available legal options set forth in the Constitution.”

To be clear, no, it is not realistically one of the options and Tabas — who claims the comments were taken out of context — should immediately resign. Anyone embracing the idea that Republicans in the legislature should overrule the voice of the people shouldn’t lead a county party, let alone a state party.

My understanding of the Electoral Code suggests that it would require a change in the law for the legislature to unilaterally pick its own electors. Obviously, Gov. Tom Wolf would veto such a measure and it would not be overridden. There is a secondary argument that if somehow the state count becomes deadlocked and buried in litigation — and Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar is somehow unable to certify a winner — that the U.S. Constitution would allow the legislature to pick a winner. I’m not sure the courts would agree. By the way, the same holds for Michigan and Wisconsin, where similar fraudulent efforts have been contemplated.

Pa. Republicans, knowing a line had been crossed, seemed to move later in the week to walk back the idea.

State Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman Tweeted on Wednesday:

Now understand, virtually all of the delays and litigation will come from Republicans. The irrational demand that there be results on election night are literally impossible — and directly caused by Republicans in the state legislature, who refuse to pass a law allowing local counties to count mail-in ballots before election day. Estimates to count this year’s ballots — because of the enormous number of mail-in ballots due to COVID-19 — are a week to 10 days depending on the county.

Additionally, Trump and Republicans are making all kinds of false claims about “voter fraud.”

In truth, there is very little.

Don’t believe me, believe the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Christopher Wray, who testified under oath before Congress Thursday, that there is no widespread effort to subvert or abuse mail-in ballots. None.

And, despite the fog and confusion being thrown up by Trump and Republicans, Pennsylvania is not sending unsolicited ballots — or even applications — to people.

Even though there is no clear fraud going on, Republicans and the increasingly disgraced Department of Justice are trying very hard to gin up some fake “corruption” this week, and were exposed in the process.

This week, violating all sorts of DOJ policies, U.S. Attorney for the Middle District David Freed announced details of an ongoing investigation in Luzerne County. It appears nine ballots — military ballots — were discarded by county election workers — as the week went on, it was revealed at temp worker accidentally discarded the ballots — it is unclear whether the person thought they were “spoiled” because they lacked an out envelope or thought they were ballot applications. It also should be noted that County election workers literally dumpster dived to rescue the lost ballots and then reported the incident to authorities.

It was a screw up, but there was no fraud, no criminal intent.

The only wrong doing appears to have taken place by DOJ personnel, a U.S. Attorney, Freed, and the U.S. Attorney General, William Barr.

Freed claimed initially that all nine were votes for Trump — it turned out only seven were. But it is highly inappropriate that we should know any of that — DOJ policy is to never comment or release details of an ongoing investigation unless it is an emergency. This was not that.

The false implication that some sort of criminal voter suppression is ridiculous. Luzerne is a GOP controlled county — one that went overwhelmingly for Trump in 2016.

Should all votes be counted? Of course. Should those who discarded the ballots be disciplined or fired (it turns out the temp worker involved was not retained)? Yes. But ginning this up as some sort of evidence of voter fraud is despicable.

Trump, Freed and other Republicans — intentionally or not – are working hand in glove with Russian efforts to delegitimize our election. Period.

The only effort at vote fraud is by Pennsylvania Republicans, and their national colleagues, who seem to feel they cannot win a fair election.

Increasingly, it is becoming clear that the Republican Party has outlived its usefulness and is now becoming a cancer on American society.

It is time for a new, center-right party to emerge with integrity and take its place — and consign the GOP to dustbin of history.


OK, you may have heard about “naked ballots.” No, it’s not some new kind of adult, political entertainment, but rather a real issue.

Ballots returned without the internal security envelope — you must put one envelope inside the other — will not be counted.

The State Supreme Court ruled earlier this month that “naked ballots” cannot be counted — based on the current election laws in the state. So, like it or not, you have to follow the rules if you want your mail ballot counted.

Carefully review all materials when you get your ballot in a couple of weeks (if you’re like me, you got an email this week telling you your ballot is on the way). Review the instructions. Fill out your ballot. Place in the security envelope. Properly fill out and sign the outer envelope. Mail it right away, or use any of the dozen-plus drop off places in the county. I plan to do the latter.

Be smart, be careful and make your vote count.


By the time you read this Trump will have nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court, with her likely being confirmed by the U.S. Senate next month, to replace the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Barrett is a very conservative jurist — which isn’t the point, actually. Trump could have renominated Merrick Garland and it would have been inappropriate. The Senate and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to hear Garland’s nomination in March, 2016, saying the next president should nominate the new justice — which turned out to be Justice Neil Gorsuch, after Trump won.

With a Supreme Court death so close to the election, based on the Garland process, it should have been obvious that the appointment should go to the winner of November’s election.

Nope. You see, if it is a Republican president in office, the rules don’t apply.

Let me quote our Republican U.S. Senator on the issue — who argues that Garland shouldn’t be considered while Barrett should:

“Four years ago, I noted that my decision to oppose moving forward with the Supreme Court confirmation process for Judge Merrick Garland was related to the circumstances present at the time.

“In 2016, the White House and the Senate, which share equally the constitutional authority for filling a Supreme Court vacancy, were controlled by different parties. When power is divided during a presidential election year, the Senate’s general practice has been to leave open a Supreme Court vacancy so that the voters may speak and possibly resolve the disagreement created by the division. Such practice has been emphatically endorsed by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and even the current Democratic nominee for president, former Senator and Vice President Joe Biden. Republicans were following this Senate practice, and the Biden-Schumer approach, when we exercised our constitutional prerogative not to fill the 2016 vacancy.

“The circumstances surrounding the current vacancy are, in fact, different. While there is a presidential election this year, the White House and the Senate are currently both controlled by the same party. The Senate’s historical practice has been to fill Supreme Court vacancies in these circumstances. This is also a view Democrats once held. We know this because every single Democratic senator pushed for Judge Garland’s confirmation and told anyone who would listen that if Democrats controlled the Senate—that is, if they were in the position that Republicans are in today—they would have confirmed him. Are we now supposed to operate by two different sets of rules that systematically advantage the Democrats?

“The difference between these Senate practices makes perfect sense. When divided government creates tension between the two organs responsible for filling a position on the Supreme Court, it is completely justifiable to leave open a vacancy until the voters have had a chance to speak. In 2016, the voters spoke by electing a Republican president and a Republican-controlled Senate. In 2018, the voters expanded the Republican majority in the Senate. Since the voters resolved the tension between the White House and the Senate, there is no reason to delay filling this vacancy.

“I will evaluate President Trump’s nominee to replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg based on whether the nominee has the character, intellect, and experience needed to serve on our nation’s highest court. These are the same objective, non-partisan criteria that I have used to evaluate judicial nominees under both President Obama and President Trump. Based on these criteria, I supported President Obama’s nomination of then-Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court and voted to confirm almost 70 percent of the judges nominated by President Obama and considered by the Senate during my time in office. If the person President Trump nominates also meets these criteria, I will vote to confirm this nominee.”

Um, yeah. Okey dokey, sport.

Look, I get it. If Toomey doesn’t back Trump’s play here, he endures two years of abuse and then loses a GOP primary in 2022 to someone even more conservative — think the QAnon types who actually won nominations in Delaware, making us all miss the good old days of Christine “I am not a witch” O’Donnell.

But the problem is, folks will remember this and Toomey will be toxic to the middle of the electorate in 2022, whether he seeks reelection or runs for governor as is rumored.

Anyone with a half a brain is going to realize this double-talk rationalization is a steaming pile of BS. Toomey endorses the concept of “one set of rules for Democratic presidents and another for Republican presidents,” and folks will remember.

On the bright side, I’m sure Toomey will make much more money in the private sector.


Some proof that there are a still few Pennsylvania Republicans with integrity, former Gov. Tom Ridge today announced he was endorsing Democrat Joe Biden for President.

I believe the responsible vote is for Joe Biden,” he wrote in an Op/Ed in The Inquirer today. “It’s a vote for decency. A vote for the rule of law. And a vote for honest and earnest leadership. It’s time to put country over party. It’s time to dismiss Donald Trump.”

It will be curious if any one else steps up but it is also a reminder of a time when we had real “rule of law” moderate Republicans, not the corrupt clown show pretending to be a political party these days.

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