Pa.’s acting Secretary of State provides insight into fumbled constitutional amendment

Pennsylvania

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Pennsylvanians should have voted last week on another constitutional amendment that would let survivors of child sexual abuse sue abusers beyond the statute of limitations.

abc27 News has reported many times that the Department of State failed to properly advertise it so it could not legally appear on the ballot. On Wednesday, we gained some insight as to how that happened.

“It was an egregious mistake. It was a failing,” Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid said.

But, according to a 68-page inspector general report, the failure to properly advertise a constitutional amendment was not intentional.

“I mentioned systematic deficiency and that’s what it was,” Degraffenreid said.

Unbelievably, there were no set procedures, protocols or tracking of proposed amendments.

“The department relied on informal and unwritten past practices,” Degraffenreid said.

The Secretary promised it wouldn’t happen again now that proper procedures and electronic tracking are now in place.

“That’s not what victims want to hear. We want concrete answers to know why this could happen,” State Rep Jim Gregory said. A sex abuse survivor himself, Gregory wonders how everyone at the Department of State survived this report.

“Nobody was actually fired as a result of this and that’s unconscionable to me,” Gregory said.

Former Secretary Kathy Boockvar resigned immediately. The Department’s Director of Legislative Affairs resigned last week. Degraffenreid would not confirm it was due to the blunder.

“It’s the responsibility of certainly the Department of Legislative Affairs to track legislation,” Degraffenreid said.

A promise to do better in the future cannot erase survivor’s painful past and the delay for justice.

“I want to sincerely apologize to the victims for the additional pain and distress we have caused them,” Degraffenreid said.

There are bills at the Capitol to take responsibility for amendments away from the Department of State and give it to the legislature.

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