HARRISBURG – Allegheny County Republican House members today slammed the consolidation of county polls for the June 2 primary which will disenfranchise voters. The state legislators, including Speaker Mike Turzai and Reps. Natalie Mihalek, Jason Ortitay, Bob Brooks, Lori Mizgorski, Mike Puskaric and Valerie Gaydos, issued the following statement:
“Within three weeks of the first COVID-19 case reported in Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives positioned Act 12 of 2020
to become law in order to prepare for the uncertainty the pandemic had placed upon our society. This swift action by the Legislature put a statute in place that allowed for some flexibility running the June 2 primary election date, recognizing the potential challenges that our county and municipalities might face in executing an election in the midst of a pandemic. In no uncertain terms was that flexibility to be interpreted as a means to compromise the integrity of our election, one of the most basic tenets of our democracy.
“Most notably under Act 12, a consolidation of up to 60% of regular polling locations was allowable under the circumstances. Any reduction greater than 60% requires approval from the Department of State upon a showing of the most dire of circumstances. To date, Allegheny County (population of 1.2 million) has 1,582 positive/suspected cases of COVID-19, 290 hospitalizations and 141 deaths. Interestingly, the Pennsylvania Department of State sent a letter to Allegheny County approving the consolidation on Sunday; however, the county released the consolidation plan to the public on Friday, sans state approval, therefore violating the provisions as set forth in Act 12. As to the possibility individuals were unable to work at their designated polls due to their own vulnerability to the virus, we offer the volumes of individuals who have contacted our offices who were willing and able, only to be turned away by the County Department of Elections determined to forge ahead with its flawed plan.
“Allegheny County’s intent to use 130 of its 1,323 regular polling locations not only violates the provisions and spirit of Act 12 but it endangers public health and will certainly disenfranchise hundreds, if not thousands, of Allegheny County voters. In a time when citizens are being advised to practice social distancing and limit gatherings to less than 25 people, it is beyond belief that our county officials would create a situation that would knowingly violate those recommendations.
“We demand that the county immediately rectify this situation and come into compliance with the law. The laws of this Commonwealth must be adhered to in order to protect the election as well as the public. A blatant disregard for these laws will be the cause of endangerment to public health and flat out voter disenfranchisement.
“The voters of Allegheny County deserve better.”
Allegheny County Republican Delegation
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Tracy Polovick