LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) – Lancaster County’s Republican commissioners have voted in their capacity as Board of Election members to remove a ballot drop box at the entrance of the county government building.
The move comes less than 24 hours until the polls open for the May 17 primary election.
A Lancaster County judge previously ruled the county commissioners violated the law when they failed to post a public notice when considering whether to have the dropbox. The ruling came after the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania sued the county, claiming the decision violated Pennsylvania’s open meeting law.
“We felt that it wasn’t necessary. To have a dropbox when are in the front of the building when the office election board of elections office is just about 20 or 30 yards away,” said Lancaster County Commission Ray D’Agostino.
According to our media partner LNP, more than 60 people attended the meeting where commissioners voted to remove the drop box. The drop box matter took up nearly 90 minutes of the meeting.
Shortly after the judge’s ruling, the dropbox was installed, only to be removed Monday.
D’Agostino says physical security was never in question. But, it is a matter of making sure people are following the law and only putting their own ballot into the box. This election cycle, while the box would be in front of the sheriff’s deputies, he says neither they nor election staff has the time to constantly monitor the box.
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“We are short-staffed and again when you have an office that’s just a few steps away, to have them come in and drop off the ballot was more efficient and effective way of handling it in this time,” D’Agostino said.
“I think it’s part of a national trend by the Republicans and former president trump to suppress voting rights and disempower people, disenfranchise people,” said Diane Topakian, chair of the Lancaster County Democratic Committee.
Some voters do agree with the decision, however.
“Voting integrity is at the very heart of our democracy. It is honest elections is at the heart of our republic. And voting integrity, I’m sorry is more significant than voting convenience,” said Richard Myers.
Out of the 28,000 ballots requested, about 7,000 are still outstanding. The county did use a drop box in 2020 and 2021 during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic,