March 19, MoreThanTheCurve.com reported on a video showing someone placing more than one ballot in a drop box in Upper Dublin Township during the 2021 election.
In this article, MoreThanTheCurve.com showed that the “Frequently Asked Questions” section of the voter services portion of the county’s website stated that if a voter with an illness or disability is unable to attend a polling place, the elector could appoint someone to deliver their ballot on their behalf. These ballots were to be dropped off at a Swede Street address in Norristown. Drop boxes could not be used for this purpose.
Our article follows a series of recommendations from the Montgomery County Republican Committee on how to make future elections safer. Liz Havey, chairwoman of the Montgomery County Republican Committee, had pointed to the Upper Dublin video as one reason these reforms were needed.
The county has since responded (full letter) to allegations of voter fraud stemming from video showing multiple ballots placed in a drop box by a single person in Upper Dublin.
From the answer:
After our review, it has been determined that the person depicted in the video clip cast each ballot with a properly completed Designated Agent Form in accordance with Pennsylvania law. Each form correctly identified the individual voter and named the individual in the video as the person authorized to act as an agent on the voter’s behalf. The county keeps each of these designated agent forms in its possession. This individual has done nothing wrong. In fact, the video shows this voter taking the appropriate steps to enfranchise residents of a local rehabilitation and long-term care facility to have their votes legally cast.
The county’s response and explanation, however, do not match a state document titled “2020 Voting Fact Sheet for Long-Term Care Facilities” that provides instructions for those seeking to nominate someone. to vote. From the state fact sheet:
A “household” for the purposes of designating an agent does not include a long-term care facility. However, a couple sharing a room or apartment within an establishment may be considered part of the same household. This means that each resident who is unable to return their own ballot due to a disability must designate a different agent
Additionally, a document created by Disability Rights Pennsylvania titled “Voting as a Resident of a Nursing Care Facility, Personal Care Homes, or Other Long-Term Care Facility” reiterates rules established by the state. for the 2021 elections. From the document:
A “household” for the purposes of designating an agent does not include a long-term care facility. However, the State Department has stated that a couple sharing a room or apartment within a facility may be considered members of the same household. This means that each resident who is unable to return their own ballot due to a disability must designate a different agent. Depending on the number of voters in a facility who will need a staff member to serve as a designated agent, this could present problems and ultimately lead to disenfranchisement of voters. Voters who require the assistance of an agent should take this into account when selecting the person to act as their agent.
When MoreThanTheCurve.com received a copy of the county’s letter to the Montgomery County Republican Committee, we asked why the “frequently asked questions” section of the county’s website contradicted the county’s explanation in the letter. County spokesperson Kelly Cofrancisco responded:
As we have progressed in the use of mail to vote and in secure ballot boxes, our policies have evolved and changed. Since the publication of the original FAQ, this policy has been updated to comply with the use of secure drop boxes, an option that did not exist at the time of its initial publication.
Thank you for reporting the inconsistency on our website, we are correcting it to accurately reflect our Voter Services Office policy that designated agent forms are permitted in secure drop boxes since we started using them.
We were curious to know when the policy changed and how it was made public ahead of the 2021 general election. We could find no evidence that this was the case. In fact, using Archive.org, a website that archives website pages, we looked up the county’s drop box instructions, as posted on its website on November 1, 2021, the day before the general election.
In the image above from the county’s website via Archive.org, you will see three highlighted areas. The first displays the URL of the page titled “Secure Ballot Drop Box Location”. The second indicates that the date of the archived page is November 1, 2021. The third is a paragraph that indicates how a ballot with a designated agent should be returned. It states that designated ballots can only be returned to the Swede Street address.
Five days before the 2021 general election, Montgomery County posted details on Facebook about using a drop box. It clearly states that you can only return your own ballot.
We also reviewed the agendas and minutes of the 2021 Montgomery County Board of Elections meetings. The Board of Elections is made up of the three county commissioners. In these documents, we found no mention of establishing or changing rules around drop boxes and electors designating someone to return their ballot. In fact, the only mention we could find of the rules surrounding drop boxes was on a drop box information document attached to the April 19, 2021 agenda. On the document, it is writing :
Per Pennsylvania election code, you can only return your own ballot. You cannot return any ballot that does not belong to you. County security will be on site at each location and there will be video surveillance. Anyone filing a ballot that does not belong to them will be sent back to the prosecution.
We can find no evidence that the three county commissioners acting as the Board of Elections have taken any action to change the rules regarding drop boxes and designated ballots. And the fact that the county’s document refers to state law when it states that drop boxes can only be used by someone submitting their own ballot begs the question of whether the county would even have the power to bring about such change.
MoreThanTheCurve.com filed a right-to-know request for all county drop box surveillance footage and received a response that it no longer exists. The county cited a state requirement to retain it only for 60 days after the election is certified. According to Havey, the county told the Republican Party that the video had never been viewed. Havey also tells MoreThanTheCurve.com that the video he received via a right-to-know request was provided in an unusual format and cumbersome file size.
MoreThanTheCurve.com also filed a right to know on a range of documents such as bills for surveillance equipment connected to drop boxes and any connection to the review of the video. The county implemented its right to have 30 days (instead of five) to respond.
Please note that we believe the person in question in the video placing the ballots in the drop box is a very politically active person in Upper Dublin Township. This person did not respond to an email requesting an interview.
Questions for the county to answer:
1. Has the county reviewed video taken at drop boxes during the 2021 general election? If not, why not?
2. When and how did the county change the rules regarding drop boxes and ballots for someone else?
3. If the county did change the drop box rules, why did the county continue to promote the previous rule until Election Day?
4. The multiple ballots returned by the person shown on video in Upper Dublin from a single facility as described (“residents of a local rehabilitation and long-term care facility”) in the letter County ? Do these ballots represent a single household as defined by the state?
How to report voter fraud
Although the county has determined that no voter fraud has occurred, there is a process anyone can use to file a complaint.
Voter fraud falls under the jurisdiction of the Montgomery County Board of Elections, the Montgomery County District Attorney, and the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. You can file a complaint here.
Let us know what you think in the comments.
Pictured: Montgomery County Commissioners Dr. Val Arkoosh (left), Ken Lawrence (center), Joe Gale (right). Photos from Montgomery County.