Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Pennsylvania’s democracy is strong despite schemes to reject election results | Opinion

While some legislators have promised to honor the law and not interfere with the will of Pennsylvania voters, others have insisted on resisting democracy.

Chester County election workers process mail-in and absentee ballots for the 2020 general election in the United States at West Chester University in West Chester, Pa.
Chester County election workers process mail-in and absentee ballots for the 2020 general election in the United States at West Chester University in West Chester, Pa.Read moreMatt Slocum / AP

November is officially in the rear-view mirror, but the election is still in the headlines, and we’re being forced to look back.

Why? The will of the people of Pennsylvania is clear and the election outcome will not change. Pennsylvanians turned out in record numbers to vote in this election. Over 6.9 million — or 70.9% — of voting-age Pennsylvanians cast their ballot. Black and brown leaders, organizers, and voters made a herculean effort to ensure that every eligible voter could vote, and every vote was counted. To call the election results into question is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to delegitimize participation in democracy, especially by Black voters.

» READ MORE: Pa. Republicans, we are better than this | Opinion

Here in the commonwealth, we pick our leaders. Our leaders do not pick and choose which voices to listen to and which ones to silence. We have spoken. We’ve elected our next president.

So the results are in, the votes have been counted and they have been certified, and our Electoral College electors have been chosen in the only way allowed under Pennsylvania law.

Yet, instead of leading by example and focusing on the real issues in Pennsylvania like economic hardship and rising COVID cases, a minority of Republican legislators from both chambers are asking to overturn the results of our safe, secure, and accessible election. This is indefensible — and the Supreme Court appears to agree, on Tuesday rejecting a last-ditch effort from U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R., Pa.) to reverse Pennsylvania’s results.

The Pennsylvania Election Code is clear. Section 1502 of our election code tells us that when we vote for slates of electors representing the presidential candidate we preferred. In Pennsylvania, our electors are chosen only by the popular vote of our voters — no one else, no guessing games.

The General Assembly must honor our vote and the Pennsylvania Constitution they are sworn to uphold. Any effort to throw doubt on the outcome of the election is a slap in the face of millions of Pennsylvania voters. We deserve better.

Disagreement with an outcome of an election doesn’t entitle a party or candidate to try to throw out the results of that election. That’s not how our government works. In America, the voters decide.

» READ MORE: U.S. Supreme Court rejects GOP congressman’s last-minute effort to upend Pennsylvania’s election results

While some legislators, like state Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, have promised to honor the law and not interfere with the will of Pennsylvanian voters, others have insisted on resisting democracy. Following a series of failed attempts to throw doubt on the outcome of the election before the end of the legislative session, some House Republicans asked last week for a special legislative session “to provide election oversight” — apparently an effort from partisan operatives to silence the will of the people. And prior to that, over 60 Republican state legislators asked our congressional delegation to prevent the Electoral College from counting the votes from Pennsylvania.

Like the other multiple attempts to usurp democracy, these efforts must and will fail.

The voice of the people is clear. The Pennsylvania Constitution is clear. Electors from Pennsylvania have been selected by we the people and must vote for Joe Biden. The Pennsylvania Congressional Delegation must accept that slate of electors without objection, so Pennsylvanians’ votes are reflected in the final Electoral College vote on Dec. 14.

» READ MORE: Pa. Republicans’ unfounded allegations of election fraud contribute to a menacing environment | Editorial

The dramatic turnout in this election has made one thing clear: The people of Pennsylvania are engaged and enthusiastic about participating in their democracy. And we at Common Cause have their backs. We’ve already started our next phase of work. Pennsylvania’s General Assembly doesn’t get sworn in until January, but legislators have already filed sponsorship memos on everything from judicial gerrymandering to attacks on vote by mail, redistricting, and other important issues.

Common Cause Pennsylvania’s charge is to assure the people of Pennsylvania that their commitment to democracy will be honored. Last year’s Act 77, expanding mail-based voting, was an important step forward. What that expansion has taught us is that when barriers to participating in democracy are removed, the people will respond accordingly. Following Pennsylvania’s record vote this election, we plan to work with our partners and the people of Pennsylvania to keep the expansion in place and to continue to reduce barriers to voting for eligible voters. We’re looking forward to the work — and confident in our democracy.

Khalif Ali is the executive director of Common Cause Pennsylvania.