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EDITORIAL: Kudos to election workers

The Dispatch Editorial Board
York County voters line up at the County Administrative Center to receive a mail-in ballot, Tuesday, October 27, 2020, the last day to apply for mail-in or civilian absentee ballots.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Thumbs up to York County's election staff — both full time workers and those on loan.

For more than a week, voters, filled with doubts about whether their mail-in ballots would be counted, have packed the hallway outside York County's election office.

Voters have stood in queues for hours during a global pandemic that's left most Americans holed up in their homes. They've weathered perhaps the ugliest national election in history, one in which Pennsylvania plays an outsized role due to electoral realities. They've waited outside for access to York County's one drop box, a result of President Donald Trump's lawsuit attacking satellite locations. 

And the crush of uncertainty has walloped counties such as York, where about 100,000 mail-in ballots are expected to pile up by Tuesday's election.

And throughout, York County's staff, many of whom were conscripted from other departments, and its elected commissioners have worked tirelessly to pull this mess into something resembling a coherent result. Let's hope they pull it off. 

It hasn't been pretty. The waits have been long, and there can be no doubt some voters have walked away, an unacceptable result. And maintaining social distancing among voters packed into the York County administrative building's basement has been a losing battle officials have continuously waged.

But, at the end of the day, faced with lawsuits from Trump's campaign and mass panic that's infected the national zeitgeist, York County staff and elected officials — many of whom are working jobs outside of their expertise — have shown a commitment to ensuring that every voter gets his or her say.

And that, on its own, is worthy of significant praise. 

Thumbs down to a K-9 unit near York County's ballot drop box on Saturday.

All the above praise notwithstanding, there's too much history in York City involving police dogs and oppression not to flag this oversight.

Sheriff Richard Keuerleber insists the dog's presence was unintentional and an unfortunate matter of timing. The dog simply had to relieve itself, he said.

And the sheriff's story is entirely believable.

But one cannot ignore the history here. Police dogs were weapons used against Black residents in York City just 50 years ago. Many are still alive and remember the race riots and the events leading up to them.

So it was not surprising that the dog's presence Saturday — amid widespread and legitimate fears about voter suppression — resulted in a measure of righteous outrage.

In response, York County officials correctly pledged that K-9s will remain out of sight of voters using the drop box going forward.

Police dog photo from the York County Historical Society