Centre County Commissioners meet during election week (Screen Capture).
By Lisa Schaefer
Even as counties are still completing critical activities related to the November election, we are already reflecting on our experiences.
We applaud the county election offices and the tens of thousands of volunteers for the many challenges that were addressed in an extremely professional manner to maintain the security and integrity of the results.
Regardless of the challenges brought on by the pandemic, regardless of the rhetoric, regardless of the lawsuits, regardless of the noise, these dedicated public servants remained laser focused on their responsibility as stewards of our democracy.
We hope you will join us in celebrating our counties’ professionalism, dedication and commitment to the integrity of our elections in the face of unimaginably stressful circumstances.
That said, we know there are always things we can do to improve. With the experiences of this election still fresh on everyone’s minds, Pennsylvania’s counties believe that they can offer recommendations from their experience to promote a smoother election process in support of our democracy.
As counties continue to work diligently to finalize the 2020 general election, the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania stands ready to engage with the General Assembly and the administration to assess the successes and challenges of the election, so that we can work together to create positive, effective election policy.
Counties, as the entities that administer our elections, must be at the table for these conversations to help create any changes brought forth regarding elections.
But, make no mistake about it, this is too important of a discussion to delay and too important of a discussion to allow to get bogged down in politics.
That is why Pennsylvania’s counties will begin our internal review now so that this critical conversation can begin immediately and we can be ready to move legislation upon the swearing-in of the new Legislature in January.
Running elections shouldn’t be a partisan battle, but about making sure that our systems are secure and accurate and that our voters can have confidence that every properly cast vote will count. It is time to put political differences aside and resolve to make meaningful improvements to the Pennsylvania Election Code.
We must get to work quickly and we must do so together, to roll up our sleeves well before next May to make meaningful changes.
As part of this effort, we call upon the Gov. Tom Wolf and the Legislature to urge the convening of the newly created Election Law Advisory Board, which was created for just this purpose – to collaborate with county governments, the General Assembly, the administration and other stakeholders to study election-related issues and offer recommendations to ensure that elections are fair, secure, and produce timely and accurate results.
Since its creation earlier this year, though, the Election Law Advisory Board has not met once, even though it can bring together critical resources and experience focused on maintaining the integrity of the voting system in Pennsylvania.
Elections are a fundamental government function and every level of government has a stake in assuring they are secure, fair and accurate. We look forward to working together on this important topic.
Lisa Schaefer is the executive director of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania. She writes from Harrisburg.
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