'If you can collect a fare, you can collect a vote'? Respectfully, no.


We suppose Julie Haertsch has some experience with elections.

After all, she lost or withdrew from races in 2006, 2017 and 2019. And she's donated to various Republican causes and candidates, including $100 to York County President Commissioner Julie Wheeler's 2019 campaign.

Does any of that qualify Haertsch to actually run an election?


It's kind of mystifying that York County's commissioners thought the former Pennsylvania Turnpike bureaucrat and failed political aspirant would be a good choice for the county's elections director.

Those who believe in honest elections must work to counterattack voter suppression efforts. (Dreamstime/TNS)

On one hand, we can empathize with the commissioners. Anyone who's done any hiring recently can. Good help is hard to find — especially for a high-pressure, heavily scrutinized job that's liable to make the person a target of death threats and lawsuits.

Last month, Commissioner Ron Smith noted that the county had identified just two viable candidates for its vacant elections post — and neither had experience overseeing elections.

"We may have to re-advertise for the position," he said at the time, "because I'm of the mindset that we should have somebody who has elections director experience."

And the county was up against an important deadline: Officials had hoped to get a new elections chief before the May primary. Nevermind the potential chaos of the state's always fraught redistricting process, with a nonzero chance that the fight over maps could bleed into the election.

Likewise, while Haertsch's donation to Wheeler looks really, really bad ...

(Seriously, what was Wheeler thinking? This is what crisis managers call an unforced error.)

... we sincerely doubt $100 is enough money to buy this kind of political appointment. If that were the case — heck — all of us would be landing $80,000-a-year public jobs.

The more likely scenario: Our elected officials simply gave up.

They had been grappling with one unqualified elections director — Steve Ulrich, a Democrat and former athletics official who was demoted following a botched election and ultimately left to manage a blog.

They didn't have a lot of viable alternatives, so the commissioners threw up their hands and settled for the least awful option.

At the Turnpike, Haertsch held the stately title of "Fare Collection Training and Development Manager." Good enough, right?

To paraphrase the Ben Stiller comedy Dodgeball: "If you can collect a fare, you can collect a vote."

We can empathize with the commissioners' predicament but, no.

After all the havoc of the last few years — including a primary in which multiple precincts ran out of ballots — York County deserves an elections chief who's actually familiar with the job.

It's as though York County's officials learned nothing from the experience with Ulrich — and we're all going to end up paying for their exhaustion.

They've balked at some of the criticism, but, seriously, this was entirely predictable.