Voter referendum to throw out Dominion voting machines falls short of signatures

Matt Enright
York Dispatch

A contingent of York County residents who've been gathering signatures in an attempt to remove electronic voting machines failed to gather the nearly 9,000 signatures necessary to bring the issue before voters.

The group, who've raised unsubstantiated claims related to the county's Dominion Voting Systems machines, came before the Board of Commissioners on Wednesday to ask the elected officials to remove the machines anyway.

"We came up a little short but we do not have a failure, I'm convinced of that," said Angela Kline, of Dover Township, said during the meeting's public comment period.

President Commissioner Julie Wheeler, citing statutes governing voter referendums, previously said the organizers would have needed to gather the signatures of 10% of the total votes cast in the 2021 general election. With 86,723 votes cast during that election, the group would've needed to gather 8,672 signatures by the 10th Tuesday before the Nov. 8.

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According to Kline, the petition organizers received just over 7,000 signatures to bring the matter to a referendum. Thirteen of the organizers brought their case against the voting machines to the commissioners Wednesday.

"Voters never gave consent to the use of electronic voter systems," said Darla Byerly, of York Township, who also spoke in favor of the election audit proposed following the 2020 election by now-GOP gubernatorial hopeful and state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin County.

The main request, Kline said, is to replace electronic voting machines with hand-counting ballots and to stop allowing voters to vote by mail-in ballot.

Kline has spoken out against the machines at previous meetings. On Wednesday, she claimed that her group has "a small army rising up." She did not give specifics about why the machines would vulnerable to manipulation or fraud.

"You people need to pay attention to that," she said.

York County has been using Dominion machines exclusively since 2019. It currently has 180 Election Day machines that are Americans with Disabilities Act compliant, 245 other Election Day machines and six high-speed scanners. Several of the machines won't be deployed come Nov. 8 but instead will serve as backups.

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In the days after the 2020 election, Wheeler issued a statement saying the county hadn't had any issues with the Dominion voting machines and that claims about votes being switched are "unsubstantiated."

Dominion voting machines have repeatedly been tested across the country in response to fraud allegations by 2020 election deniers. So far, those claims have never been substantiated.

In El Paso County, Colorado, for example, a test of the county’s equipment — required by law before a recount — found no issues, county officials and Dominion Voting Systems told The Associated Press.

Dominion Voting Systems has filed a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against Fox News, arguing the cable news giant falsely claimed in an effort to boost faltering ratings that the voting company had rigged the 2020 election.

After Wednesday's meeting, Wheeler said in an interview that the people who spoke had simply advocated for their positions. When asked if she or the other commissioners had any desire to place a referendum on the ballot themselves, she declined comment.

Commissioner Ron Smith also declined comment.

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"There's a lot of variables right now that need to be answered," Smith said, "and that's all I'm going to say."

Commissioner Doug Hoke said he would wait for a recommendation by the county's Board of Elections.

After the meeting, many of the referendum organizers went to the office of the Board of Elections to turn in the petition, despite falling short of the signature threshold.

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