In This Update:
Update on 2020 Election Issues
Over the past several days, I have received many calls, emails and letters raising concerns about the 2020 elections. I believe we need to make sure that our elections are fair and guarantee every legal vote is counted so all citizens can have faith in the results. This means investigating all areas of concern and ensuring all reasonable steps are taken to ensure the sanctity of our electoral process.
It is important to note the counting of votes is only the first step. The count must be completed before candidates can raise objections regarding the myriad of questionable issues about the handling of the election. This process takes time, but it will take place soon.
One of the biggest concerns that has been raised are cases in which poll watchers were denied access to pre-voting and vote counting. In some cases, poll watchers were forced to view the process on monitors or at distances that made it impossible to see what was happening. This is a clear violation of the spirit of the law and raises concerns about the validity of the results.
For this reason, I support calls by legislative leaders for a full, independent audit of the 2020 election to root out any potential instances of fraud or abuse. In addition, Senate leaders announced this week that the Senate State Government Committee would immediately review the results of the election. These reasonable, commonsense steps would ensure the accuracy of the results, and it would go a long way toward restoring faith in the fairness of our elections.
I also support calls for the resignation of Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar for her blatantly partisan role in preventing a level playing field in the 2020 elections. In many cases, she ignored the courts as well as the plain language of the Election Code, and her last-second guidance created an extraordinary amount of chaos that led voters in some counties to be treated unfairly. We need qualified, nonpartisan leadership from the office responsible for overseeing our elections, and we certainly did not see that in this election cycle. Some of our concerns have already been justified in a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court. On November 12, 2020, Judge Mary Hannah Leavitt ruled that Boockvar did not have statutory authority to extend the deadline for voters to provide proof of identification, from November 9 to November 12, if their identification was missing from their mail-in ballot and ordered counties to not count the ballots that were corrected during the extended time period.
However, I also understand that simply calling for the resignation of Secretary Boockvar is not enough. We need to take concrete steps to safeguard the integrity of our elections to prevent the kind of abuses that have been reported to us in recent days. That is why Republican officials, campaigns and legal teams are currently working together to monitor the vote counting process and ensure no illegal votes are counted. Pennsylvanian Republicans filed in the United States Supreme Court to intervene because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court violated the Constitution when they extended the deadline to receive mail in ballots to three days past what the law says, 8:00pm on Election Day. Justice Alito also ordered Pennsylvania to segregate the ballots received after 8:00pm on Election Day while they review the case. Due to the deliberate, conflicting guidance by the PA Secretary of State in regards to counties segregating the ballots that came in after the legal deadline, on Friday November 6, 2020, Justice Alito again ordered that all Pennsylvania counties must segregate those ballots. This is a good sign that the U.S. Supreme Court will take this case. Lancaster County completed counting mail in ballots and set aside ballots that were received after Election Day to await a response from the United States Supreme Court.
A great deal of work remains to finalize this year’s election results, and the situation continues to change at a rapid pace. I will do my best to share updates on election issues on my social media accounts and encourage you to check back for additional information in the days and weeks ahead.
Window to File Unemployment Compensation Claims Extended
Many Pennsylvanians have experienced severe challenges in filing for and receiving Unemployment Compensation claims throughout the pandemic. In order to help more state residents who were unable to receive the money they were owed, the Department of Labor and Industry has temporarily extended its ability to backdate payments.
The temporary extension will allow individuals to file backdated claims for up to 52 weeks. Claimants seeking to file a backdated claim should email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Back Date Request.” The email should include the exact date they were separated from their employer and any relevant information about the separation for the additional weeks the claimant wishes to claim.
Temporary Assistance Available for Veterans
This week, the nation paused on Veterans Day in reverence for the brave men and women who have served our great nation. Financial assistance is available to veterans and their families who are struggling to afford the necessities of life, including food, shelter, fuel and clothing.
The Veterans Temporary Assistance Program offers aid when a veteran is unable to afford basic necessities due to temporary loss of income, sickness, disability, unemployment and other emergencies and circumstances beyond their control. The program also helps families of military personnel who died while in service or were killed in action.
In addition, the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs launched a new statewide outreach initiative this week to better serve Pennsylvania’s veterans. The new PA VETConnect system is designed to improve referral capabilities and connect veterans to the services they need.
Free Counseling Available for Medicare Beneficiaries
Many older Pennsylvanians struggle to deal with the variety of different choices available for Medicare, supplemental insurance, prescription assistance programs, long-term care insurance and other health care options. Medicare beneficiaries are eligible to receive free counseling services through the state’s APPRISE program.
Medicare recipients can call the APPRISE Helpline at 1-800-783-7067 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday. Your local Area Agency on Aging is also available to arrange counseling.