Lycoming County officials, audit group continue to spar
WILLIAMSPORT — Getting rid of voting machines is top on the list of demands of a group of citizens in Lycoming County challenging the integrity of the 2020 Presidential Election that were voiced at a special meeting of the county’s Election Board this week.
No mail-in ballots, voter identification and posting election results at polling places were also mentioned by the 20-some people that attended the meeting to state their concerns about what they consider anomalies in the election that took place almost two years ago.
Ultimately the group would like a question placed on the ballot allowing the electorate to decide if the county should continue the use of voting machines.
As a follow-up to last month’s Election Board meeting where the group had presented affidavits detailing what they allege were anomalies in the election, Forrest Lehman, director of the county’s Office of Voter Services, presented in detail the findings of his department’s investigation into those allegations or anomalies as the group preferred to call them.
The information on the affidavits had been garnered by the group of concerned citizens from going door-to-door canvassing voters for what they considered anomalies such as claims of voters’ addresses being wrong or voters who claimed they had received unsolicited mail-in ballots.
Lehman had taken the affidavits and addressed the specific complaints in them, compiling a powerpoint presentation, which in some cases displayed copies of ballots with any identifying information redacted, refuting the claims from the group.
Some of the allegations in the affidavits were: address does not exist; duplicate records; voter claims they voted by one method, Audit the Vote PA (AVPA) records claim they voted by a different method; vote did not count; voter registered at address, but does not live there; and voter not mentally competent.
According to a summary at the beginning of his presentation Lehman said: “49 affidavits were presented alleging discrepancies in voter registration records; affidavits were reviewed and researched; facts responsive to each affidavit were ascertainable via county records; many different fact patterns — not possible to review all 49 today; and a summary of the most common/recurring allegations with representative examples,” were to be presented.
As he went through the allegations, or anomalies as the group prefers to call them, these results were revealed: “cases where respondents’ recollections were inaccurate and the research corrects the record; cases where AVPA records were inaccurate and the research corrects the record; allegations based on lack of understanding of election policy and procedures; allegations based on lack of understanding of how voter registration record maintenance is required to be carried out pursuant to federal law (the National Voter Registration Act or NVRA); resolutions were undramatic and did not warrant referral to D.A. (District Attorney); and a few minor actions were taken.
Actions taken by Lehman were: “merged one pair of duplicate voter records (a second pair of duplicate records had already been found and merged in May, prior to the affidavits); made two administrative corrections to voter addresses; marked three voter records as Inactive to start the voter maintenance/removal process. All other voters whose circumstances warranted marking them as Inactive had already been identified and marked as such during previous voter maintenance mailings. No suspicious circumstances forwarded to D.A.”
“So conclusion — nothing I’ve seen in the affidavits we’ve been presented justifies the extraordinary request to recount a two-year-old election or to discontinue use of electronic voting equipment,” Lehman stated.
“Very simply, questions about individual registration records have nothing to do with whether the voting equipment produces consistently accurate results. And similarly, even if the information presented had raised any additional questions about voter registration records, a recount of ballots would neither prove or disprove allegations about voter registration records,” Lehman continued.
“A recount of ballots would only show that our equipment counts ballots accurately and that the county has already proved that definitively time and time again,” he added.
The presentation was not enough to satisfy the distrust of the system for many in the room as one after another they claimed that voting machines could be corrupted, voters should provide identification before voting and that hand counting was the only true and reliable form of counting the votes.
“We didn’t want to get bogged down in the path of having to defend ourselves to the unelected bureaucrats,” said Jeff Stroehmann, a Woodward Township supervisor and member of the group of citizens challenging the election.
Stroehmann has used the term in the past to refer to Lehman, who is not an elected official.
“The presentation today, I’m going to cry foul again, one more time,” Stroehmann said.
“First of all, what we presented originally to you was taken out of context. What we gave you were what we refer to as anomalies — anomalies. It was mentioned over 20 times in that presentation, but they were allegations. Anomalies were mentioned once. They were not allegations,” he said.
Speaking to the commissioners who comprise the election board, Stroehmann continued, “We’re here to ask you to use the tools you have in your arsenal to represent us to the state, not to say go to the state and take it up with them.”
“You have tools in your arsenal as our elected voices to say to the state, we’re hearing this, we’re hearing this, we’re hearing this. Constructive dialogue means we don’t necessarily have to do a full hand recount,” he said.
Noting that there is a certain amount of time between the election and when the votes become official, Stroehmann asked the board, “Are there things we can do to help reinforce to your constituents that there are eyes on the ballots?”
“Let’s set up a dialogue. Let’s set up a system so that there are human eyes, not just a few, something more intensive to back up the machines. Have you heard today that people don’t have confidence in the machines,” he added.
Stroehmann and Karen DiSalvo, a local attorney, are also seeking to see the mail-in ballots. They are claiming that even though they have filed Right-to-Know to be able to review the ballots, Voter Services is putting up roadblocks to allowing this to happen.
In her presentation before the board, DiSalvo claimed that there were still unanswered questions about some of the ballots in the 2020 election. She cited a case where allegedly a resident in a nursing home who was not considered competent had cast a ballot. DiSalvo said that in her opinion, “there was a coordinated effort in our nursing homes to take advantage of our elderly people, and I believe that a referral should be made to the district attorney’s office based on this information.”
Referring to the ballot images that she and Stroehmann have requested, DiSalvo said, “We are fought at every step.”
Speaking to the board, she said that the commissioners have the ability to change that. It is you that has the power.”
“You have the power to do everything that we have requested and why not give us what we want? What are people so afraid of? What is the Department of State so afraid of that they have to send a team of lawyers to Williamsport, Pennsylvania to fight us from getting reports tallied from the machines following an election,” DiSalvo asked.
“Please stand up for the people — we just want transparency. We just want to know that our votes counted in the 2020 election. No matter how many times we were told, that was not the fairest election in American history. The polling numbers clearly show that no one believes that big lie,” she said. “Please stop fighting the people and work with us because we are not going away.”