Opinion

Counting Every Ballot Is Great, As Long As It’s Done Legally

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Every valid ballot that was legally cast and counted in this historically tight presidential election should be counted. The flipside, of course, is that no illegitimate or fraudulent should be counted. Both conditions are necessary to deliver an outcome that the American people can trust and accept.

Under cover of COVID, the left implemented sweeping, last-minute changes to the electoral process in battleground states all over the country. With the help of sympathetic partisan judges, many of these changes were allowed to take effect even though they directly contradicted state election laws. The judges simply ruled that the coronavirus pandemic created extenuating circumstances, regardless of the fact that state legislatures didn’t approve the changes.

The intent was twofold: drive up leftist turnout, and sow confusion in the vote counting process that could later be exploited by biased officials. To the extent that ballot harvesting, acceptance of late-arriving ballots, and other changes helped improve the left’s vote tally, it wasn’t enough — President Trump dramatically improved on his own 2016 turnout and dramatically overperformed compared to pre-election polls, leaving him with a substantial lead at the end of the night after all the polls had closed.

Unfortunately, the left didn’t miss a beat, and immediately set about exploiting the chaos to boost Joe Biden’s chances.

When the President declared victory early Wednesday morning and warned against allowing voting to continue after Election Day, the left accused him of trying to stop counting legitimate votes, even though he never said any such thing. What he was really talking about, however, was the sort of tomfoolery we saw taking place in numerous critical states in the subsequent hours.

Michigan saw some of the most egregious instances of apparent fraud took place in Michigan, where the left needed massive numbers of votes from Detroit to offset the solid pro-Trump turnout in the rest of the state. The opportunity to boost Biden’s numbers in Wayne County came in the form of ballots that were rejected during the machine count.

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Michigan law allows these ballots to be reviewed and corrected — known as “curing” — if the voter’s intent can be clearly discerned by election officials. This is only supposed to happen, however, in the presence of observers from both major political parties. If neither side objects, a new ballot can be filled out by the poll worker and submitted in lieu of the faulty original, which is then set aside.

In Wayne County, numerous witnesses have attested to seeing rejected ballots being cured without the involvement of Republican observers — a direct violation of state election law.

Pennsylvania’s vote, meanwhile, is evidently being corrupted in a different fashion. In the Keystone State, Democrat Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar issued a directive late Monday night authorizing county election officials to return erroneous ballots to voters so that they could be cured before the polls closed on Election Day. This, too, is a direct violation of state law.

To make matters worse, the last-minute nature of Boockvar’s announcement — less than 24 hours before polls closed — meant that it was really only practical to correct flawed ballots in large, urban areas such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The predictable result was disparate treatment of voters that heavily favored heavily-liberal areas over heavily-conservative jurisdictions — a violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

This appalling practice served to disenfranchise all Pennsylvanians who voted properly, especially those in counties that followed the rules and did not follow Boockvar’s illegal guidance. All voters and their votes should be treated fairly and equally, but that is not what Pennsylvania’s election officials are doing.

The Amistad Project, which I direct, is working to restore the integrity of this election before it’s too late by filing lawsuits in both Michigan and Pennsylvania to ensure that every legitimate ballot is included in the final tally, and that no fraudulent ballots are allowed to neutralize the votes of citizens who exercised their franchise in accordance with the law.

We’ve already secured a preliminary victory in Pennsylvania, where a judge ordered election officials to segregate legally-cast ballots received by Election Day from provisional ballots so that a thorough review can be conducted in compliance with all applicable laws.

The law allows a moment of pause before election results are certified specifically to ensure that the election was fair and the ballot counts are accurate. That’s exactly as it should be. Election officials could greatly assist this verification process by opening up their books and being transparent about what they’re doing and what they’ve done. They have the records that could prove malfeasance without revealing the personal information of any voters, and they should make those records available for public scrutiny.

The left is pushing to “count every ballot,” which sounds like an admirable goal. All Americans, however, should join us in insisting that every ballot counted meets the standards of fairness and transparency that we expect and deserve.

Phill Kline
meet the author

Phill Kline is the Former Kansas Attorney General. He currently serves as Pulpit Pastor of Amherst Baptist Church, a law school professor, and director of the Amistad Project of The Thomas More Society. Previously, he served as president of the Midwest Association of Attorneys General, was on the Executive Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General, and was co-chairperson of the Violent Sexual Predator Apprehension Task Force. He was a Kansas House member for eight years where he chaired the Appropriations Committee and the Taxation Committee and authored victims rights laws and welfare reform.

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