Participation, patience keys to protecting our democracy this election

ERIE Oct. 7 -  Pennsylvania will be a key battleground state in this election, and we all can agree: every citizen 18 years of age and older has the right to vote and do so safely this November, whether that be in-person or by mail. Regardless of who you're voting for, every vote will be counted. Every vote matters, and it is both our democratic and civic duty to shape our future by exercising our right to vote. 

Because of COVID-19, experts anticipate a large number of mail-in ballots, which take time to count. In fact, we saw this in our primary election. This means that instead of the projected winners we are all used to seeing reported on election night, it is very likely that the results of the general election will not be known in time for the 11 p.m. news – and there is no legal requirement they have to be known on Election Day. 

It’s vital to be patient and allow every vote to be verified and counted as we have throughout American history. Until those votes are finished being tallied, we must respect the integrity of our democratic process and wait patiently for the final certified results. 2020 will be an election like no other, with projected historic turnout and public health challenges. Every vote cast must be counted, and the democratic will of the majority must be respected. This is the cornerstone of American democracy. 

Attempts to erode this cornerstone of democracy are underway. Recently, Republican members of the PA House State Government Committee rushed to pass dangerous legislation, H.R. 1032. This resolution lays the groundwork for a potential presidential election coup by creating a partisan select committee with the power to subpoena anyone and anything related to the election, including ballots. This would prevent legally cast ballots from being counted and the election from being certified. This would shatter the people’s trust in fair elections before votes even start to get counted. 

If this measure becomes law, delays in certification of our election results could leave us vulnerable to an “Electoral College coup” where the sitting president would lose the popular vote and the Electoral College – yet be given four more years in office. 

Is it likely? We hope not. Is it legal under the Constitution? Not even close. But, for a president and a party that’s attacked elections non-stop, gutted the post office, filed frivolous lawsuits (that you’re paying for), lied about fraud and is trying to intimidate people away from the polls, we’ve seen that there is no bottom to the depths they’ll sink in the name of trying to ignore the people’s voice. 

Ultimately, the only way to prevent even the possibility of such Orwellian tactics being employed is for every person to vote. Should the election be a landslide, none of these despicable scenarios are able to come to pass. Remember that your right to vote is a constitutional right that my colleagues and I will always fight to protect. We can and will work together to ensure the integrity and the validity of our democratically held elections. 

Register to vote. If you choose to vote by mail, apply for your ballot as soon as you can and, when it arrives, fill it out and return it right away -- making sure to place the ballot in the secrecy envelope, putting that in the return mail envelope and fully completing the voter declaration. If you choose to vote in person, the polls are open from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Nov. 3. Either way - please vote.