Re­duce doubt by au­tho­riz­ing early count

The Times-Tribune - - EDITORIAL -

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump has made it clear that he in­tends to use any de­lay in count­ing the Nov. 3 elec­tion to jus­tify his re­peated claim that the only way he could lose the elec­tion is by fraud re­lated to the pan­demic-in­duced mi­gra­tion to vot­ing by mail.

Wed­nes­day, the same day that Trump un­con­scionably said that he would not com­mit to a smooth tran­si­tion of power if he loses, Penn­syl­va­nia Sec­re­tary of State Kathy Boock­var said that county elec­tion of­fices will need to start count­ing mailed bal­lots be­fore Elec­tion Day to have any hope of quickly re­port­ing com­plete re­sults.

More than 1.4 mil­lion Penn­syl­va­ni­ans voted by mail for the June 2 pri­mary elec­tion and that num­ber could nearly dou­ble for the gen­eral elec­tion, by state es­ti­mates.

In an in­ter­view with the Morn­ing Call, Boock­var said that even in a worst-case sce­nario, county elec­tion of­fices are well pre­pared to have the mil­lions of mailed bal­lots tab­u­lated by the week­end fol­low­ing the elec­tion, or sooner. That is re­as­sur­ing in it­self be­cause some po­lit­i­cal an­a­lysts have pro­jected de­lays of weeks or longer.

The so­lu­tion to en­sure the most timely and ac­cu­rate count pos­si­ble is to al­low county elec­tion of­fices to be­gin count­ing mailed bal­lots on the Satur­day be­fore Elec­tion Day. They would not an­nounce the re­sults so as not to in­flu­ence vot­ers who will vote in per­son or mail bal­lots at the last minute. But the early to­tals would be avail­able with in-per­son re­sults counted on Elec­tion Day.

Ab­sent that early count, Boock­var said, the state will es­tab­lish a highly trans­par­ent pro­to­col to doc­u­ment in real time the num­ber of bal­lots counted and those re­main­ing to be tal­lied, which coun­ties they came from and the party af­fil­i­a­tions tied to the out­stand­ing bal­lots.

The bi­par­ti­san vote re­forms of 2019 that au­tho­rized mail-in vot­ing, well be­fore the pan­demic made it es­sen­tial, are the sig­na­ture achieve­ment of the cur­rent Leg­is­la­ture. Law­mak­ers from both sides of the aisle should com­plete that re­form by au­tho­riz­ing the early count to en­sure the ear­li­est pos­si­ble re­lease of vote to­tals, and to pre­clude the use of any de­lay in an at­tempt to thwart the vot­ers’ will.

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