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Unverified overseas ballots threaten local and military votes. PA Fair Elections files complaint


Image adapted from photo credited to Task Force 34


By Alex Weddon | Aug. 23, 2023


In a pivotal turn of events yesterday, Pennsylvania citizens lodged a formal complaint against the Pennsylvania Department of State (DoS) alleging violations of federal election laws. Pennsylvania Fair Elections (PFE) asserts that the DoS failure to verify overseas voter identities violates the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). The alarming allegation suggests that the DoS has routinely instructed election officials to sidestep federal standards and open the door to overseas ballot fakery.


During a one-hour online media conference, PFE founder Heather Honey and attorneys Erick Kaardal and Elizabeth Nielsen who are representing the case, raised serious concerns regarding the potential erosion of military votes and the integrity of the electoral system.


Honey, an investigator with Verity Vote, presented a slide presentation explaining how the Pennsylvania DoS is essentially enabling anyone, anywhere, to cast any number of ballots into the pool of genuine ones. “Verification of information is the law” she emphasized.


Attorney Erick Kaardal, a partner in of Mohrman, Kaardal & Erickson, P.A., the law firm representing the case, said, “It’s not too much to ask state officials to follow federal law.” The prominent attorney has built his 30-year career suing the government on behalf of regular people. Kaardal has won two U.S. Supreme Court cases and chalked up more than 61 election integrity victories.


During the press conference Kaardal said progressives were engaging in serial violations of the law. “The reason why we’re collecting a lot of these victories,” he said, “is because their interpretations of the law are so absurd.” Left unchallenged, progressives have gone too far, he suggested, and PFE’s claim is an example of helping right the ship of state.


The landmark federal Help Americans Vote Act (HAVA) requires states to validate voter eligibility and residency before issuing a ballot. Most do so at the time a person registers to vote. A press release issued by Mohr, Kaardal & Erickson after the webinar stated:


Many states have verification requirements far beyond the low minimum standard set by HAVA, but no state can legally implement a lesser standard. Unfortunately, the PA Department of State (DoS) has done just that. Through unlawful guidance, the DoS is instructing election officials to violate HAVA and risks the dilution of military votes by allowing ineligible individuals to receive and vote an absentee overseas ballot.

Pennsylvania resident Sean Parnell, a retired US Army Combat Veteran Captain, said, “As a combat veteran, I can’t think of a higher priority than protecting the vote of the men and women who serve in our military. Over 75% of the individuals who apply to vote with UOCAVA privileges in PA indicate that they are not military or military family members. All members of the military have valid, verifiable, government issued identification. Overseas citizens must have verifiable ID as well.”


The PFE grievance raises the specter of Pennsylvania and potentially other states diluting the value of military and citizen votes and compromising the electoral process.


 

You are invited to MFE's weekly Zoom at Noon on Thursdays. Sorry, no press.



 

“Election integrity is an incredibly important issue across the nation, particularly in Pennsylvania, a known swing state,” Kaardal said when discussing the complaint. “PA Fair Elections has identified a serious problem with the state’s handling of overseas votes, and we are hopeful that the administrative law judge will recognize that problem.”


Section 20302 of UOCAVA requires states to “accept and process, with respect to any election for Federal office, any otherwise valid voter registration application and absentee ballot application from an absent uniformed services.” [editor bold]


Growth


Since the passage of the MOVE Act, the numbers of non-military votes has steadily increased. In 2022, the percentage of non-military votes nationwide rose to 65%, up from less than 45% in 2010.


Huge increase in non-military.

--Heather Honey's presentation to the media, Aug. 22, 2023.


In last fall’s 2022 election, a whopping 81.5% of Pennsylvania’s overseas ballots were from non-military voters—less than 18% were from members of the military and their families.

In last fall’s 2022 election, 81.5% of Pennsylvania’s overseas ballots were from non-military voters—less than 20% were from members of the military or their families.

--Heather Honey presentation to the media, Aug. 22, 2023


The administrative claim seeks to correct the alleged violations and ensure that all eligible voters, especially military personnel, are not deprived of their right to cast a meaningful vote.


As the complaint moves forward, its potential to protect military votes and the broader electoral integrity of Pennsylvania is likely to draw significant attention. The outcome of this legal action could serve as a crucial precedent for upholding federal election laws and ensuring that the voices of all eligible voters are heard and respected in a fair election process.


Alex Weddon, former owner of the Grasslake Times, serves on MFE's Board of Directors and is a member of MFE's Communications Team.





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