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Gregory seeking end to no-excuse mail-in voting

State Rep. Jim Gregory, R-Hollidaysburg, this week announced plans to introduce a bill to do away with the no-excuse mail-in voting.

No-excuse mail-in ballots were authorized last year through bipartisan Act 77. It is a voting method that Republicans have excoriated as a source of problems in the recent election.

“I didn’t vote for what we ended up with,” Gregory said Wednesday, referring to Act 77. “The (state) Supreme Court and the Secretary of State took what we gave them and turned it into something different.”

Gregory has been hearing from constituents “every hour of every day that they’ve lost complete faith in the election process” because of “inconsistencies, irregularities and confusion,” Gregory said.

The election problems occurred because the Democratic-majority state Supreme Court, in a decision leading up to the election, extended the deadline for mail-in ballots to arrive at county election offices up to three days past Election Day, because it presumed the ballots were mailed before Election Day, absent evidence to the contrary, even with no postmark; because it prohibited discarding of ballots based on signatures that didn’t match; and because it permitted drop boxes, Gregory said.

“The state Supreme Court took what we voted on and turned it into a weapon,” Gregory said.

He blamed Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar for guidance issued to counties under which some notified mail-in voters before the close of the polls of obvious mistakes so they could correct or “cure” them, while other counties did not.

“The product that Pennsylvania voters were given is a bad product,” Gregory said. “In sales jargon, we need to give them a make-good.”

By a “wide, wide margin,” Gregory’s constituents — 80 percent of whom voted for President Donald Trump — have demanded that he “stand up” for the president, Gregory said, when asked whether he accepted that Democrat Joe Biden won “fair and square.”

“I can’t tell them, nor will I tell them, it’s time to move on,” Gregory said. “They’re demanding that I continue to fight.”

Tallies show Trump lost the election in Pennsylvania by 80,000-plus votes, and courts have so far rejected all of the Trump campaign’s attempts at reversing the outcome.

Gregory declined to speculate whether his proposal to eliminate no-excuse mail ballots would win any Democratic support. But he argued such support would be justified.

“Inconsistencies by the election board and judges give people heartburn and make them feel like this election process is flawed,” Gregory said. “Anybody for any party should agree, because the shoe could be on the other foot next time.”

The state Supreme Court’s recent ruling to allow undated Allegheny County ballots in a state Senate race to count, despite a technical defect that one justice said should be fatal only for the future — even as similar ballots were not being counted in Westmoreland County for the same race — is an example of unacceptable inconsistency, Gregory said.

Prior to Act 77, voters needed to give a reason like disability, illness or being out of the county on Election Day to obtain an absentee ballot, and Gregory seeks to return to that standard, he stated in a news release.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038

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