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Commissioners dismiss claims of voter fraud -- “Peaceful transfer of power may be the most enduring legacy of Founding Fathers”

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Bucks County Commissioners Diane Ellis-Marseglia, chair, and Bob Harvie, vice chair, both Democrats, together issued a statement, Friday, condemning President Donald Trump’s claims of voter fraud and ensuring voters their ballots would be counted, no matter whether they choose to vote by mail, or in person.

Minority Commissioner Gene DiGirolamo, a Republican who supports mail-in voting, also issued a statement Friday, saying the county is working tirelessly to make certain every vote is counted.

Both statements also addressed the need for a peaceful transition of power, should Democratic candidate and former vice president, Joe Biden win.

“Yesterday, President Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election. In a democracy, that is unacceptable,” Ellis-Marseglia and Harvie said in a joint statement.

“The peaceful transfer of power following an election may be the most enduring, and enviable legacy of the Founding Fathers. It displays for the world to see the respect for law and for the will of the people. Without it, we cannot call ourselves a democracy.”

The majority commissioners added that, “The president has falsely claimed that mail-in ballots will lead to mass voter fraud. That is a baseless lie with zero evidence.

“We are living in unprecedented times and such meritless comments lay the groundwork to delegitimize the election, and cast serious doubt on our electoral process.

“While mail-in-voting is new to Bucks County and all of Pennsylvania this year, it is written in law – a bipartisan law passed by a Republican state House and Republican state Senate and signed by a Democratic governor. Voting by mail is a legitimate option citizens of this commonwealth have to legally cast a ballot. Most of the states in the United States use mail-in voting, including states controlled by Republicans and Democrats,” they said.

DiGirolamo said he was among the Republicans who voted in favor of voting by mail.

“As a state representative back in June of 2019, I was one of 109 Republican House members who voted in favor of a bill to allow mail-in voting in Pennsylovania. Only one Republican voted no. The Republican Party and leadership were convinced this was the right thing to do, along with other issues included in the bill. Gov. Wolf signed the bill and it was a bipartisan agreement.

“I, along with my two fellow commissioners, make up the Board of Elections here in Bucks County. I am absolutely committed to making sure that, whether you vote at the polls or use mail-in voting, your vote will be counted and the voting process will be safe and secure. Many states have been using mail-in voting for years with not only little to no problems, but also little to no incidents of voting fraud.

Ellis-Marseglia and Harvie said that in their role as commissioners of the Board of Elections, “… we have a sworn, solemn duty to conduct free and fair elections in Bucks County. We have gone to great lengths during this pandemic – from new equipment to new employees to the installation of ballot drop boxes – to ensure this election is carried out as effectively, efficiently, and transparently as possible.

“When claims of election fraud are made, it insults the dedicated public servants who work around-the-clock in the Bucks County Board of Elections, processing voter registrations, mail-in-ballot applications, training election day workers, and will ultimately conduct the official count.

“We can’t let that insult stand unanswered. These are honest, hard-working county employees who take their jobs very seriously and have endured a great deal of adversity this year.

“We want all eligible Bucks Countians to be able to cast their ballot safely and securely – whether that’s in-person on Nov. 3 or by mail-in-ballot – and however they choose to cast their ballot, they can do so with the knowledge and comfort that their vote will be counted accurately.”

Said DiGirolomo, “Our BOE director, Tom Freitag, our chief clerk, Gail Humphrey, and all of our election board staff have worked tirelessly to ensure the integrity and success of our election, and make certain every vote is counted.

“I have pushed for, and will continue to advocate for, the ability to pre-canvass as one of the recommendations of the bipartisan Election Task Force we formed here in Bucks. Right now in Pennsylvania, ballots cannot be removed from their envelopes and prepared for the machines until the morning of Election Day.

“This does not give us enough time to process each and every ballot in time to have a final count available on election night, as we are all used to having. We need a change in the law in Harrisburg so that we can pre-canvass the ballots before election day. We have purchased equipment to aid in the opening of the envelopes and the counting of the ballots all in an effort to ensure a safe, secure and efficient election day process.

DiGirolamo began his statement with his earliest memories of election day, growing up on his grandparents farm more than 60 years ago.

“My grandparents – who emigrated from Italy and became citizens – would, on this special day, come out of the fields they farmed side-by-side to get washed up and put on their Sunday best clothes to go vote together,” he said.

“Because they loved their new country so much and realized the importance and responsibility of voting, it was the most important thing they could do. That image of my grandparents, driving away to go vote, humbled by that right and responsibility, has stayed with me throughout my years as an elected official.”

DiGirolamo ended his statement by saying, “ ... a peaceful election for president and, depending on the outcome, a peaceful transition of power, is healthy and necessary to the survival and vitality of both our country and democracy. Let’s all work together, no matter what your party affiliation, to make sure that happens. This was so important to my grandparents and so many just like them, and it should still be of the utmost importance to us all today.”

jarthur@buckscountyherald.com


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