By Joe Gale
The act of sabotage known as Act 77 is a scandal of epic proportions that both Democrats and Republicans are trying to sweep under the rug. This legislation not only sabotaged President Trump’s re-election, but destroyed the integrity of our elections in Pennsylvania.
In the summer of 2019, which predates the coronavirus and widespread COVID-19 hysteria, every single Republican in the Pennsylvania Senate (including Doug “Mail-In” Mastriano) and the Republican majority in the Pennsylvania House teamed up with Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf to pass unconstitutional legislation enabling 50 days of no-excuse mail-in voting. In exchange for giving Democrats the longest vote-by-mail period in the nation, Gov. Wolf agreed to eliminate straight-ticket voting from the ballot. Doing so helped separate down-ballot Republicans running in legislative races from Donald Trump at the top of the ticket. This scheme was designed to protect those Republican candidates, many of whom were incumbents, from feeling the full impact of a high-turnout presidential election. And the results proved to be successful. Every down-ballot incumbent Republican state legislator won their respective race and Donald Trump lost his bid for re-election as a record 2.6 million votes were cast by mail. That’s over 10 times the number of absentee mail-in ballots that were submitted and received in the 2016 presidential election.
Not only is Act 77 toxic legislation, as noted above, it was passed unconstitutionally. Article 7, Section 14 of the Pennsylvania Constitution outlines the parameters for absentee voting. Therefore, to legally and validly establish no-excuse mail-in voting, a constitutional amendment is necessary, which requires the suggested change be passed in two legislative sessions and then approved by voters in a ballot referendum. As it stands, Act 77 is an illicit provision, as it passed only one legislative session and the voters of Pennsylvania never had an opportunity to weigh in at the polls.
Adding insult to injury, Harrisburg Republicans were forewarned about the unconstitutionality of Act 77. In January 2019, then-Republican Sen. Mike Folmer issued a formal memorandum to his colleagues warning them that creating no-excuse mail-in voting required a constitutional amendment. Yet, every Republican senator went ahead and brazenly passed this garbage bill that would end up destroying Donald Trump’s presidency.
Any elected official who put their hand on the Bible and swore to uphold the constitution and then voted for Act 77 should be disqualified from holding office. These legislators should resign in shame or at the very least forfeit any efforts at re-election or dreams of higher office.
It is no secret that Sen. Doug “Mail-In” Mastriano is desperate to run for governor in 2022. And in the process, he has engaged in a series of PR stunts and schemes disguised as legitimate efforts to “stop the steal” and “audit the vote.” Frankly, the very man trying to solve the problem is directly responsible for the problem. As such, it’s both outrageous and unacceptable that a politician who voted to allow 50 days of voting by mail without an excuse would dare to even float a bid for the highest office in the commonwealth. Simply stated, Doug “Mail-In” Mastriano is a master manipulator BS artist who specializes in propagating false hope and empty promises.
By far, the No. 1 issue facing not just Pennsylvania, but the entire nation, is election reform. To restore faith in our election process, we must get back to one Election Day. Doing so requires eliminating multiple days and weeks of early voting, mandating voter identification, ending universal no-excuse mail-in voting and restoring traditional absentee voting that is predicated on a documented excuse, a verified signature and postmark, and strictly enforced deadlines. ••
Joe Gale is a Montgomery County commissioner and a Republican candidate for governor.