The whereabouts of ‘voter books’ from all townships in Delaware County remain unknown just three days from the most heated election in modern history, Your Content has learned.
Chairman Tom McGarrigle of the Delaware County Republican Party called on the County’s Election Board on Halloween to take immediate action to protect the integrity of the upcoming election and prevent the disenfranchisement of voters at the polls on Election Day.
McGarrigle also expressed alarm that when at least two duly elected Judges of Election went to pick up their voter books from the Election Board today, they had already been picked up by other individuals.
According to sources close to the situation, the Election Board was unable to determine who picked up the books, demonstrating a complete lack of basic safeguards and protections.
The location of the books, which are used to verify a person’s eligibility to vote at a polling place — and confirm they had not already voted by mail-in ballot — remains unknown at this time, the insider told Your Content.
McGarrigle called on the Election Board to establish clear procedures and safeguards in three key areas:
1) ensuring the county’s 44 mail-in ballot drop boxes are closed and secured at 8 pm on Election Day, as well as providing for bipartisan oversight of the collection and delivery of those ballots;
2) preventing the disenfranchisement of voters by ensuring each polling location has ample provisional ballots to address the problem of many individuals never receiving their requested mail-in ballots (Note there was a problem in the primary election where many polling locations ran out of provisional ballots); and
3) establishing clear procedures with bipartisan oversight for segregating mail in ballots received after Election Day to ensure compliance with the recent opinion issued by the US Supreme Court.
“It is alarming that we are just days away from the election and the Election Board has failed to address many important issues related to ensuring a fair and secure election,” said McGarrigle. “The county Republican Party has attempted to work in good faith with the Democratic run county government, but many of our concerns about the lack of transparency and details on steps being taken to ensure the integrity of the election have gone unanswered.”
McGarrigle said he was driven to take his concerns public because those concerns have gone unanswered and unaddressed.
He said the Delaware County Republican Party was informed that Tanner Rouse, the First District Attorney under Democratic DA Jack Stollsteimer was the county’s “point person” on addressing election concerns.
What’s more, McGarrigle says that a number of questions and concerns have gone unanswered by Rouse and was bewildered when Rouse posted today on social media that he was out campaigning on behalf of Democrats Deb Ciamacca and Mary Gay Scanlon.
The former senator-turned party boss noted the irony, particularly since the Chester Spirit reported shortly after Stollsteimer took office earlier this year that as a result of a new ethics policy he instated that “partisan activity was ceased” by employees of the DA’s office.
“It is unbelievable that the county’s point person on ‘fair elections’ who is responsible for reviewing and investigating any complaints from the Republican Party is engaging in campaign activities for one party while ignoring our requests to ensure the integrity of the elections,” said McGarrigle. “It’s a blatant conflict of interests and raises serious questions about whether our our concerns will receive an unbiased, fair review.”
“When voters approved Delaware County’s Home Rule Charter, they specifically established the Election Bureau as an independent entity free of the control of Delaware County Council to provide for fair elections and safeguard against improper influence by any one political party. In the months leading up to the election, we have seen the complete politicization of the Election Bureau and Election Board by Delaware County Council. County Council’s violation of the independence of the Election Board, the repeated violations of the Sunshine Act, lack of transparency, and the failures to safeguard the security of the election process need to be addressed.”
According to McGarrigle, to date the Election Bureau has failed to ensure compliance with state law that requires all ballots must be submitted by 8 pm on Election Day by establishing procedures to close and secure each of the county’s 44 drop box locations at that time.
Currently, the county plans to have 4 vans drive to each drop box location and collect those ballots without any bipartisan oversight. That would also mean ballots could continue to be deposited in drop box locations well after 8 pm.
McGarrigle called on the Election Board to immediately establish a process by which each drop box has a tamper-proof seal with a serial number placed upon it by the Judge of Elections for that precinct under the oversight of a watcher to remove any concerns that any ballot could be discarded or tampered with.
He also called for a process by which watchers could monitor the travel of those vans until those drop boxes were delivered and properly secured.
According to McGarrigle, there were rampant issues during the primary election of polling locations having insufficient provisional ballots on hand.
During the primary election, the scarcity of provisional ballots at polling locations forced many Judge of Elections to require voters to wait for more to be delivered in order to vote provisionally. In some cases, voters left and did not return due to transportation issues or time constraints, resulting in the disenfranchisement of those voters. He said the Delaware County Republican Party has repeatedly raised concerns about ensuring ample provisional ballots that have gone unanswered by the Election Board or the District Attorney’s Office.
McGarrigle also noted that the recent opinion issued last week by the US Supreme Court requires that all mail-in-ballots received after Election Day be segregated from the other mail-in ballots until the court can hear arguments and issue a decision on the case. He said that the Election Board needs to establish a clear and secure process – with bipartisan oversight – for ensuring that mail-in ballots received after the Election Day are not co-mingled with other ballots.
“Given the politicization of the Election Board that has already occurred, these are fair but much-needed steps that need to be taken to provide reassurances and ensure the integrity of the process and provide for a fair, untainted election,” said McGarrigle.
McGarrigle explained that over the course of the past few months, there have been many irregularities related to the actions by Delaware County Council and the Election Bboard. He said that going forward, there needs to be clear dividing between County Council and the Election Board to restore its independence. McGarrigle pointed to violations of the Sunshine Act, such as failing to provide public notice regarding agenda items before the Election Board.
He also expressed concern that County Council, on October 7th, approved $80,000 in no bid contracts, including a $53,000 contract to Today Media, the parent company of Main Line Today magazine, for “voter outreach.” At the October 6th County Council agenda meeting, Councilwoman Christine Reuther stated that the contracts needed to be approved because the two companies were already doing the work and needed to get paid. Earlier this week, the contractors issued a communication under the name of the Delaware County Election Board that was never reviewed or approved by the members of the board or their solicitor.
“It is extremely concerning that there had been no explanation of why this work was not competitively bid , how the firms were selected, who selected them, and how they could enter into contracts with them before any approvals were given,” said McGarrigle. “In addition, who is approving these communications from the Election Board without their knowledge or authorization?”
McGarrigle raised a number of other concerns as well, including failures to address problems of ballot harvesting and repeated failures by the majority of the Election Board to provide proper notification to the Republican representative on the board on a range of issues. McGarrigle also noted that the county’s establishment of an Election Working Group, which met regularly and included a quorum of both County Council and the Election Board, as well as other select, hand-picked organizations violated the Sunshine Act. He said those meetings should have been open to the public.