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Instead of being stuck on last election, legislature needs to secure next one

It’s time for the state legislature to stop investigating the last election and take action to protect the integrity of the next one.

Whether it’s an effort to try and convince voters that the wrong person won the presidential election, or an effort to pry into the private information of voters, it’s unnecessary and unbecoming.

We know that the disgraced former secretary of state went outside the law as it is written to try and influence the outcome of the election last November. We know that a highly partisan state Supreme Court chose to look the other way and allow the executive branch’s misdeeds to go unchecked.

Now, we know why the legislature needs to act — not investigate, ACT.

On Friday, the Scranton Times-Tribune reported that an unidentified man stuffed multiple ballots into a dropbox in Lackawanna County the day before the May 18 primary.

This is blatantly illegal and is all that the state needs to put a stop to the madness.

This doesn’t mean voting should not be accommodating to voters — ballots by mail are not new; early voting, while recent, is not in an of itself a bad thing. And, during a pandemic, relaxation of some voting laws, as the legislature allowed, made it safer for voters to take part in the election.

But breaking the law in the act of voting cannot be tolerated.

Republican Lackawanna County Commissioner Chris Chermak — admittedly an opponent of drop boxes — had to file a Right-to-Know request to obtain video that the county took which apparently show the man entering a vestibule and placing multiple ballots in the unattended drop box.

The Democratic majority commissioners say that doesn’t prove fraud, nor invalidate the ballots. But if those ballots were counted, it does feed into the belief that the election was rigged.

As we have pointed out before, and as state Sen. Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte), the President Pro Tempore of the Senate told The Sentinel earlier this year, the real issue is whether voters believe the system is trustworthy.

This incident brings that trust into question.

“The video in this case perfectly illustrates the concerns legislators have raised for more than a year about the use of unsecured ballot drop boxes. If someone did this on camera in broad daylight, there is no telling what someone might do when proper surveillance is not in place,” Corman said Monday in a statement. “Unfortunately, this is exactly the kind of story that creates mistrust in our voting system. It is critical for lawmakers and the governor to work together to fill the gaps in the system and restore faith in our elections.”

The county sheriff’s office said it doesn’t have time to look into the matter — doesn’t have time to make sure one of the most important functions of government instills faith in the people.

If we are to trust the outcome of the next election, we can look at the safety factors enacted in other states in the wake of the 2020 general election: stronger voter ID requirements (which are neither unreasonable nor racist); better controls on absentee voting and voting outside of traditional polling places; and clarification of voting laws to ensure another state official does not overstep his or her bounds.

And that’s why the legislature needs to stop looking at what might be a problem, and address the things we KNOW are the problem.

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