Commenters bring election doubts to York County commissioners

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

Four public commenters pushed conspiracy theories and urged officials to take steps to remedy what they claim without evidence is rampant voter fraud during Wednesday's York County Commissioners meeting.

Angie Kline, of Dover, claimed that a petition to place a referendum on the election ballot banning the use of Dominion Voting Systems machines had over 4,000 signatures. 

According to President Commissioner Julie Wheeler, a petition for a referendum would need 10% of the total votes cast in the 2021 general election. With 86,723 votes cast in the 2021 general election, that's approximately 8,672 signatures needed.

"We will be bringing them in to you guys," Kline said. "These are your constituents that are working hard to see this happen." 

Kline has spoken at several commissioners meetings before about elections, including in February and March of this year. 

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She criticized the purchase of another Dominion Voting Systems voting machine that commissioners approved at their last meeting.

Julie Bortner, of Dover, said she had been recruiting people to sign the petition, which she said has taken time away from her business, though she did not disclose what that business was. She has also spoken at commissioners meetings about the election.

"For those that are looking, for those that have eyes to see, it's obvious Dominion voting machines cheat," Bortner said.

Bortner appeared to be citing a debunked conspiracy theory from Colorado, where it was alleged that the machines failed an accuracy test required by state law. In reality, officials have said the machines worked as intended and, when tested, found dummy ballots that had votes intentionally left blank. In an election, those ballots would be sent to bipartisan teams to ensure they are tabulated correctly.

Speakers also criticized the upholding of Act 77, which allows for no-excuse mail-in ballots. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld the decision Tuesday after a legal challenge from Republicans.

"When you have one illegal vote get in the ballot box, it's not going to be taken out," Thomas Paup, of York City, told the commissioners. Paup has criticized the ballot dropbox that York County provided in the past. 

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Wheeler said the county will likely run a drop-box for mail-in ballots for the November election, which will be staffed by a county employee and a member of the sheriff's office.

In the meantime, the speakers urged the elections department to do research on who mail-in ballots are going to.

"We're trying to get our voices heard any way we can," Kline said, saying numerous elected officials had signed their petition. 

After the meeting, Wheeler said she appreciated the feedback.

"The purpose of public comment is for people to come and make a comment in public forum, and they're certainly entitled to come and express their point of view," Wheeler said.

When asked if it sends a message to people that the county purchased another Dominion voting machine, Wheeler said the people who spoke Wednesday frequently come to talk about elections.

"They certainly have their purview to come to the commissioners meeting. They're passionate about their initiative and they want their voice to be heard," she said. 

— Reach Matt Enright via email at menright@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.