It is no secret that Pennsylvania is set to be a post-election battleground state as much as it has been a pre-election battleground state.
I’ve written a few stories about the legal battle that played out in the Pennsylvania state courts and then moved to the Supreme Court, concerning changes to Pennsylvania’s election laws that the Legislature refused to pass when it expanded access to “mail-in” voting due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a nutshell, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a ruling that ballots received up to three days following election day will be accepted and counted as if they arrived on election day, so long as they are postmarked no later than November 3, 2020. Pennsylvania’s elections statute states explicitly that mail-in ballots must be in the possession of election officials by 8:00 pm on Election Day in order to be valid and counted.
Whether the three-day extension ordered by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is valid or not is the subject of a challenge now pending before the Supreme Court.
It is uncertain at this point how many ballots might be received during this three-day window that are postmarked on or before November 3. The integrity of Pennsylvania’s elected officials in handling those ballots, and then dealing with them appropriately based on the outcome of the Supreme Court decision — if Pennsylvania’s vote is close, and the state may play a decisive role in the outcome of the election — is critical to any close outcome being viewed a “legitimate”.
So, with that in mind, let us turn our attention to this tweet on Saturday from the elected Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Josh Shapiro –a Philly Democrat:
If all the votes are added up in PA, Trump is going to lose. That’s why he’s working overtime to subtract as many votes as possible from this process.
For the record, he’s 0-6 against us in court. We’ve protected voting rights. Now, ignore the noise—vote!https://t.co/mN8t6TDud7
— Josh Shapiro (@JoshShapiroPA) October 31, 2020
“If all the votes are added up in PA, Trump is going to lose.”
Sounds like something you would expect to hear from a Dem pol from Philadelphia, where the “art” of “finding” extra votes to get a Democrat candidate across the finish line is practiced at the highest levels.
The sad reality of Pennsylvania politics is that overt naked partisanship plays out at every level — including the Pennsylvania state courts where judges are elected, and the elections for judgeships are “partisan” races with candidates for office running on the ticket of a political party.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has four elected Democrats and three elected Republicans. The most controversial parts of the decision changing Pennsylvania voting laws were adopted by a 4-3 vote along party lines. The changes largely mirrored the changes that had been advocated by Pennsylvania’s Democrat Governor but rejected the GOP-controlled Pennsylvania Legislature.
The Pennsylvania Secretary of State is responsible for overseeing elections in the state. But challenges to the outcome of the election, or the processes involved in counting votes, are litigated by the Pennsylvania Attorney General.
Now, let’s suppose the outcome in Pennsylvania as announced in the next few days is that Donald Trump has prevailed by a narrow margin, and the difference is a higher-than-expected number of disqualified mail-in ballots due to deficiencies in the way the ballot was completed or delivered. Also, assume the parties that challenge the outcome are the Biden campaign and Democrat Party interest groups. The Trump campaign would be in a position of having to rely on Shapiro to defend the outcome as announced by the Secretary of State.
The same guy who just said publicly that Pres. Trump cannot win if all votes are counted.
The Trump campaign would clearly have standing on its own behalf to advocate in any court for affirmation of the outcome of the election as announced. But what would happen if the Attorney General sided with the Biden campaign and told the Court that not all valid votes were counted and that the outcome of the election would be different than as announced if all such votes were counted?
Comments like the one made by Shapiro — from an elected official who has NO STAKE in the outcome of the Presidential race — destroys confidence in governmental institutions. Shapiro has almost guaranteed that any narrow loss of Pennsylvania by Trump is going to be pinned on his comment on Saturday — the outcome was predetermined by elected Democrats in Pennsylvania state government, and it was just a matter of getting the numbers fixed where they need to be.
Shapiro should announce today that he has compromised his objectivity and that his public statement creates an impermissible appearance of bias that is antithetical to his obligation pursuant to his oath of office to represent the interests of all Pennsylvania residents without partisan favor.
Somehow I don’t think he’ll be making any such announcement.