United Way of York County president steps down

The Big Lie is alive and well. We can't let it affect our right to vote

York Dispatch editorial board

More than half of Pennsylvania voters — including 72% of Republicans and 29% of Democrats — are dissatisfied with the state's elections.

Let that sink in.

It's important not to overgeneralize here. Not all of these people, respondents to the latest Franklin & Marshal College Poll, swallowed President Donald Trump's Big Lie about voter fraud in the 2020 election.

Some of them want reasonable reforms. A full 64% support open primaries that aren't restricted by party affiliation. Roughly 54% would like top-two primaries in which the highest vote-getters advance to the general election regardless of political party.

More:York County restricts mail-in ballot drop box, citing staffing issues

More:After Trump's 'big lie,' half of U.S. lives in a fantasy world. This won't end well

More:The fight against voter suppression

Both measures led to the election of less extreme candidates, according to a 2020 University of Southern California study of congressional voting habits in the states that implemented these policy changes.

York County Sheriff's Deputies Paul Stoner, left, and Jim Ring move the county drop off box inside the York County Administrative Center after the 8 p.m. voting deadline Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021. The box had been moved outside to accommodate drive-up ballot-casting. Bill Kalina photo

But 54% of Pennsylvania voters polled by F&M expressed a mistrust of drop-boxes, the big metal boxes that many Western states have used since the 1970s and became a source of controversy with the increase of mail-in voting during the pandemic.

In the lead-up to the 2020 election, Trump tweeted that "the Democrats are using Mail Drop Boxes, which are a voter security disaster." After losing to President Joe Biden, he continued to spread misinformation about the legitimacy of the election.

Back in the real world, Pennsylvania reported very few instances of actual voter fraud. The Associated Press documented just 26 possible cases, representing 0.03% of Biden's margin of victory. In a bitter irony, many of these fraud cases involved Republican voters.

More:In Capital-Star Q&A, Seth Grove makes what CNN calls a 'stunning revelation' about election fraud

The fraud was committed by people like Bruce Bartman, a Delaware County man who was sentenced to five years of probation for illegally voting for Trump on behalf of his deceased mother.

Republicans nonetheless have persisted in their misinformation campaigns, spreading the Big Lie that our electoral process can't be trusted.

That's particularly apparent in the clown-car GOP primaries for U.S. Senate and governor.

“As a matter of fact, we know that the election of 2020 was stolen,” Senate candidate Carla Sands recently told a debate audience.

Best we can tell, no one asked Ms. Sands about the legitimacy of Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Perry or state Auditor General Tim DeFoor, who were elected the same year as Biden.

As tortured as the logic is, The Big Lie is already impacting voters.

In Lehigh County, District Attorney James Martin plans to station law enforcement officers at that county's drop box to ensure voters deposit only one ballot apiece.

“As you can imagine, law enforcement officers, whether they be in uniform or in civilian clothes, positioned near a ballot drop box may very well dissuade eligible voters as well as authorized designated agents from legally casting ballots,” wrote Leigh Chapman, Pennsylvania's secretary of state, in response.

York County has done Martin one better.

President Commissioner Julie Wheeler said the county didn't have adequate staffing to monitor the box — never mind all the security cameras in the area — and, thus, would be severely restricting the public's access.

More:York County officials taking a page from GOP-controlled state Senate

Voters can still drop off ballots in person (cold comfort for anyone who works 9-to-5 for a living) or at three proscribed drive-through events.

We doubt Wheeler will see her grave misjudgment for what it is: Voter suppression.

Instead, we encourage voters to be proactive.

Closely follow all your balloting instructions and, if you're using a mail-in ballot, drop it off or mail it as early as you can. Your public officials won't make it easy for you.