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EDITORIAL: Pennsylvania's battle for a free-and-fair election earns pair of recent wins

YORK DISPATCH EDITORIAL BOARD
  • The Pennsylvania GOP recently dropped an effort to set up a Republican-majority election panel.
  • A Trump campaign lawsuit challenging the state's poll-watching law was recently thrown out.
  • State Democrats said both efforts were attempts at voter suppression of Democratic voters.
The November general election is less than three weeks away.

It’s no secret that certain elements of the Republican party are actively seeking ways to suppress the vote this November.

Given the latest polls, many Republicans are looking at voter suppression, especially among people of color, as possibly the only path to keep Donald Trump in the White House and their party in control of the U.S. Senate.

The GOP’s efforts to suppress the vote, however, suffered a pair of stinging defeats recently in Pennsylvania. Many may have missed the headlines because both stories emerged over the weekend, when folks tend to lose track of the news cycle.

They are stories, however, that could have a major bearing on Trump’s chances of winning the battleground Keystone State. Both were also good-news stories for anyone in favor of free-and-fair elections.

Election Integrity proposal dropped: The first story emerged Friday when Pennsylvania House Republicans dropped their plans to fast-track an 11th-hour effort to set up a Republican-majority election panel with subpoena power, amid justifiable accusations from Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf and others that it was an effort to steal the election.

Pennsylvania House GOP drops 'election integrity' plan

In an email to House Republicans, Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, R-Centre, said “the muddied waters and misunderstanding” about the intent of the Select Committee on Election Integrity made it clear “this is the wrong time to run the proposal.”

Benninghoff blamed “the left and their media allies.”

That’s patently false. The Republicans withdrew the proposal because it had no chance to get approved. It also became obvious to everyone that its true intention was to suppress Democratic voting.

Lawsuit thrown out: Then, the very next day, a federal judge in Pennsylvania threw out a lawsuit filed by Trump's campaign, dismissing its challenges to the state's poll-watching law and its efforts to limit how mail-in ballots can be collected and which of them can be counted.

Judge throws out Trump campaign's Pennsylvania lawsuit

Trump’s campaign wanted the court to free county election officials (mainly Republicans) to disqualify mail-in ballots where the voter’s signature may not match their signature on file and to remove a county residency requirement in state law on certified poll watchers.

It also wanted the court to bar counties from using drop boxes or mobile sites to collect mail-in ballots that are not “staffed, secured, and employed consistently within and across all 67 of Pennsylvania’s counties.”

Trump claims he can only lose Pennsylvania if Democrats cheat and suggests that the Democratic bastion of Philadelphia needs to be watched closely for election fraud.

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Well, election fraud is largely a red herring. Multiple studies over the years have said as much.

The lawsuit was rightfully opposed by the Wolf administration and the state Democratic Party, who correctly said that Trump is running on the conspiracy of election fraud because he cannot run on his own record of fraud and mismanagement.

Time to remain vigilant: Trump and his yes men in the Republican party are obviously pulling out all the stops in their voter suppression playbook to keep Pennsylvania a red state in the upcoming election. Trump knows that if he wants to get reelected, he must again win Pennsylvania.

Fortunately, two of the Republicans’ most recent attempts have failed.

That does not mean, however, that those in favor of free-and-fair elections can become lackadaisical. They must keep their guard up, because the Republicans will continue their efforts to suppress the vote.

Election day is less than three weeks away. We must remain vigilant.