Pennsylvania State Sen. Dave Argall says Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth Veronica Degraffenreid ducked a key committee hearing he presided over regarding election reform.
He says Degraffenreid and his Senate State Government Committee had agreed upon a date when she’d testify on what he’s calling bipartisan election reforms. So, a public hearing was scheduled but when it was time for Degraffenreid to testify, she was a no-show.
The senator who represents Schuylkill County in Harrisburg says this is just more unconstitutional behavior on the part of Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration. Argall says in a statement following the no-show, “When the Governor was studying at Dartmouth, the University of London, and MIT, he certainly reviewed the very basic, fundamental concept that in our system of government, he’s bound by the Constitution to share powers with the Legislature, not act unilaterally like a King. I cannot understand the unwillingness of the Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth to appear today, at a time and date the Department agreed to weeks ago.”
Argall is promoting Senate Bill 878, which calls for several key reforms to mail-in ballots and other election processes. Specifically, SB 878 would:
- Allow pre-canvassing of mail-in ballots “at least 3 days before Election Day not later than 8 a.m. on Election Day;
- Use a barcode system that allows voters to track their mail-in ballot;
- Implement livestreaming of ballot counting;
- Eliminate the permanent mail-in ballot list;
- Require 24/7 surveillance of ballot dropboxes;
- Change rules on mail-in ballot deadlines;
- Require real-time reporting of deceased voters; and
- Provide training for election workers.
SB 878 is co-sponsored by Argall and Democrat Sen. Sharif Street, the Minority Chair on Argall’s State Government Committee.
Surely, Argall wants Degraffenreid to testify before that committee due to the errors committed and presumed of former Commonwealth Secretary Kathy Bookvar, who resigned amid scandal on a non-election related issue. But there are also questions about her guidance and rules around the 2020 General Election. Degraffenreid is the fourth person to serve in the Commonwealth Secretary position in the Wolf administration.
“The Department of State has been a very troubled department in recent years, with a high degree of turnover at its top position – much higher than usual. Both Governor Rendell and Governor Corbett had just one Secretary during their respective tenures, while Acting Secretary Degraffenreid is now the fourth to serve under Governor Wolf,” Argall says in a statement. “Now, Senate Bill 878 is the product of months of public hearings and collaboration between both Republican and Democratic Senators, local elections officials, county commissioners, and other elections officials from across the nation. To move the bill forward, it would be very helpful to actually discuss the issue, in public, with the Acting Secretary of the Commonwealth, as we had previously agreed.”