EDITORIAL: Ongoing GOP vote claims do real damage
When the definitive story of the 2020 presidential election is written, it will honor the commitment to democracy demonstrated by state-level Republican officials like Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who withstood withering political pressure — not to mention death threats — in refusing to tamper with election results.
It will be far less kind to the likes of Pennsylvania’s Rep. Mike Kelly and state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Adams, who instead sought to reverse the will of the people in a partisan effort to steal the election.
The pair are prominent among state Republicans who have called for Pennsylvania to dismiss its election results, which gave President-elect Joe Biden a clear, 80,000-plus vote majority. The state’s 20 electoral votes, they believe, should be decided not by the voting public but by the state’s Republican-controlled state Legislature.
That’s an insult to all Pennsylvanians — Republican and Democratic alike. Just because they want to anoint the Republican candidate doesn’t change the fact they would throw out Republican along with Democratic ballots to do so.
Still, they’ve been cheered on heartily by President Donald Trump and his backers.
Mastriano was among those hosting the president’s legal team during a dog-and-pony show last week with the state Senate Majority Policy Committee in Gettysburg, where, yet again, allegations of voting chicanery were groundlessly tossed about, along with calls to reverse the vote.
“It’s the state Legislature that controls this process,” Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told the all-Republican gathering in urging them to override the will of the public. “It’s your power. It’s your responsibility.”
Fortunately, this type of overhyped hyperbole doesn’t play as well in the halls of justice as it does in the echo chambers of partisan politics:
- On Friday, a three-judge panel for the Third U.S. Circuit of Court of Appeals rejected a Trump campaign lawsuit that sought to overturn Pennsylvania’s elections results, finding, as have numerous previous court rulings, no evidence of illegal voting or fraud. “Calling an election unfair does not make it so,” wrote Judge Stephanos Bibas, a Trump-appointed Republican. “Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here.”
- On Saturday night, the seven-member state Supreme Court unanimously threw out a suit led by Kelly that sought to block state certification of the vote and either dismiss all mail-in ballots or have the state Legislature appoint electors. Kelly & Co., wrote Justice David N. Wecht, “failed to allege that even a single mail-in ballot was fraudulently cast or counted.”
The dual defeats cap weeks of legal decisions in which GOP efforts to reverse elections have been alternately lambasted and laughed out of court.
These ongoing, fact-free allegations — Mastriano was at it again Saturday on Twitter — are not only becoming tiresome, they’re doing real damage. If GOP officials cared to pull their heads out of the president’s back pocket long enough, they’d find the ongoing coronavirus pandemic running rampant throughout York County, Pennsylvania and the nation. But the president, and the party faithful who do his bidding, have spent the past weeks focused instead on make-believe election fraud.
Mastriano, Kelly and like-minded lawmakers ought to think long and hard about how much further they want to fan the flames of controversy over an election that, frankly, wasn’t even close. Their actions undermine the foundation of our democracy, insult their own party’s hard-working elections officials, widen already alarming political divides and rain down shame and infamy upon the state.
But don’t take it from us, Republicans. Consider the warnings of one of your own:
“If Republicans don’t start condemning this stuff, then I think they’re really complicit in it,” Georgia’s Raffensperger told the Washington Post. “It’s time to stand up and be counted. Are you going to stand for righteousness? Are you going to stand for integrity? Or are you going to stand for the wild mob?”
Pennsylvania is awaiting an answer.