GOP amendment graphic finds way into voters’ booth

By: - May 18, 2021 4:56 pm

A Franklin County voter spied a legislative Republican graphic in her polling place Tuesday that she says is slanted in favor of two constitutional amendments restricting the governor’s emergency powers.

Sarah Shupp, a 36-year-old Southampton Township resident, said she was filling out her paper ballot in a cardboard cubby when she noticed the graphic pinned to the cubicle.

The graphic says that a “yes” on the first ballot question “helps to restore a legislative ‘check’ on executive powers” and that the second question would “establish more local control in emergencies.”

A graphic inside a Franklin County polling places. (Courtesy of Sarah Shupp)

The two questions would allow a simple majority of lawmakers, down from the current super- majority, to end a gubernatorial disaster declaration, and require legislative approval for emergencies longer than 21 days.

The graphic didn’t change Shupp’s mind, “but reading it I can tell it was a Republican-leaning advertising or graphic,” she told the Capital-Star. “The minute I started reading it, it seemed really partisan.”

Shupp took a picture of the graphic. After voting, she noticed the graphic was taped on the inside of the other cubbies as well, and approached the judge of elections.

The judge told Shupp he didn’t see any problem with the graphic, and said it came from state Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin.

When Shupp explained her concerns, the judge said he “got approval to put it” in the cubbies. Shupp then left.

In an email, Kauffman told the Capital-Star he didn’t know where these fliers came from, and said his district office had received a call from “a local partisan” accusing him of spreading the graphic.

“They were not printed or distributed by me, my legislative office or my campaign,” Kauffman said.

The Franklin County Commissioners did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

No attribution was placed on the printed graphic, but it matches one House Republicans have shared on Twitter since early May. It also was tweeted out this morning.

House Republican spokesperson Jason Gottesman told the Capital-Star he was unaware of any official effort to distribute the taxpayer-funded graphic to polling places.

“Everything we have done so far has been informational, including those graphics,” Gottesman said, “but we have cautioned members to make sure they are not using their official time or resources to advocate for or against any ballot questions.”

Accusations of electioneering with public dollars have been hurled at Republicans and Democrats for the past month as the debates over the ballot measures heated up.

Pa. lawmakers have been promoting May 18 ballot questions. One method is raising eyebrows

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Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso is a former senior reporter with Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Before working with the Capital-Star he covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter.