Op-ed: We Heard You, Pennsylvania

In this nation, the constitutional right to vote proves sacred. No matter what walk of life we come from, this American principle is one upon which we all agree.

The discourse we’ve seen as of late, however, leaves our constituents afraid their votes aren’t safe. Polls from Franklin & Marshall College, Muhlenberg and Rasmussen reveal voters distrust our election process, are dissatisfied with the status quo and worry cheating will undermine the November midterms.

Similar concerns from constituents flood our offices daily. It’s our obligation, as their elected representatives, to address this issue now.

That’s why Act 88 of 2022 was the first step we took to restore integrity into the electoral process. This bill bans private election grants, bankrolled by partisan groups, and instead creates a state-funded program to help counties cover the costs of elections.

This crucial reform comes after the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) – flush from a $350 million donation from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg – granted an estimated $23 million to just one-third of counties to assist in election administration amid the pandemic in 2020. This, even though each one of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties faced the same challenges and knew nothing of CTCL and their supposedly impartial mission.

These grants were clearly awarded with prejudice through a process shrouded in ambiguity. That’s why we stopped this effort to undermine our sacred election process in its tracks.

Next, we turned our attention toward two constitutional amendments that, if approved in the next legislative session that starts in January, will give Pennsylvanians the chance to weigh-in on whether identification is necessary to vote. A June Franklin and Marshall poll showed 74% of respondents favor this policy, while 81% support signature verification – a facet of existing law that our Democratic administration and activist judges ignored in 2020.

The second proposed amendment would grant the General Assembly authority to order election audits performed by the Auditor General. It is another critical layer of transparency and gives Pennsylvanians peace of mind to believe in the fairness of our voting system.

Our hard work to restore your trust in our electoral process has only just begun.

We heard you, Pennsylvania.