(Image by Patrik Houštecký from Pixabay)
Dear Anthony (Hayes),
I notice you don’t call yourself a journalist and that’s probably a good thing, but a journalist would have gone to the people involved, the warehouse supervisor, Jim Savage, the Election Board Chief Clerk, Lureen Hagan, or the director of elections, Marianne Jackson, and asked for an explanation of the things the so-called “expert Gregory Senstrom (sic) saw or thought he saw.
As a member of the Delaware County League of Women Voters which was very much involved in helping carry out this election in this county since last January, with new voting machines, new procedures, paper ballots for the first time, and the training of new poll workers, I can tell you, he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
He may well have seen 60,000 or a few thousand ballots locked in a room. Bipartisan teams from the Election Bureau collected the ballots from 50 drop boxes each day and locked them in a secure room each night until Election Day when it could begin to count them. They may have remained there for some portion of the day as it took two days to count all the mail-in ballots. They had to be kept somewhere secure while the ballots ahead of them were being prepared. If Senstrom (sic) really thought those ballots were not counted, he should have gotten a court order to free them.
At the polling places, poll workers were instructed to accept mail-in ballots brought in with their return envelopes, have the voter sign a declaration of surrender and receive a regular ballot. (Because the ballot and envelope were surrendered, it obviously did not get mailed back in an attempt to vote twice).
Those who brought in their ballots without the envelope or did not surrender a mail-in ballot because they lost it, threw it away or did not receive it, could only vote provisionally or a specially marked ballot that could not be accepted by the machines but otherwise looked like a regular ballot. The poll workers had to account for every used and unused provisional ballot and regular ballot at the end of the night.
Some 1,500 provisional, military and overseas ballots were counted and of the 900 or so that were challenged, only one challenge was successful, involving a small group of ballots. Miss Hagan can tell you about that. If people voted provisionally because they had not returned or did not receive their mail-in ballot, the SURE system was checked to determine if the mail-in had in fact come in and been counted. If it did, that ballot was counted. If it did not or it came in too late, the provisional ballot was counted. All eligible voters got to vote – once.
Each of the Hart Verity machines was programmed to accept ballots only for the precinct where it was being used unless the polling places were combined, which many were. What Senstrom (sic) may have seen was a warehouse worker bringing a new USB stick, called a Vcard, to allow the machines to accept ballots (only once) from combined precincts. The ballots themselves were barcoded only to be accepted by the machines in that precinct so if the machines were not set up to accept ballots from other precincts initially, that had to be done. The vCards could not feed votes into the machines, only record the paper votes being scanned and dropped into the ballot boxes.
Perhaps you don’t know Pennsylvania mandated new voting machines this year to have paper ballot backups in the event of an audit or a recount. Our old machines did not provide a paper backup, only a tape of the votes that were recorded on the machines. With those machines, there was truly no way to verify if the machines had been programmed or tampered with to flip votes. On the new machines, the number of those paper ballots falling into the ballot boxes under each machine corresponded exactly to the number of ballots recorded on each of the machines. No feeding of electronic votes into the machines could occur without matching ballots.
In addition to “poll watchers” recruited by each party, the EB recruited actual poll workers from both parties to work at as many polling places as possible. Believe me, the minority poll workers kept a close eye on the proceedings. I was a machine operator (Dem) at my majority Republican precinct and the Republican judge of elections and I conferred on every question.
There were never 47 vCards missing. In some cases novice poll workers forgot to retrieve the vCards from the machines after the polls closed, but as every machine was packed in a cage with all of the documentation, it was a simple matter to recognize that the vcard was missing and unlock the scanner to retrieve it. Nevertheless, that had to be done under the watchful eyes of teams of Republican and Democratic poll watchers in the days after the election and then the machine and cage were secured again. In fact, it took 11 days for these teams to retrieve all of the documents, account for all the ballots, lock down the machinery and secure the paper ballots. All of the vcards were accounted for. They are merely backup in any event. The actual vote is recorded on each machine and can be matched to the paper ballots cast at each polling place.
Likewise, poll watchers from both parties oversaw every step of the ballot counting at the operations center at the Wharf in Chester. Just because Mr. Senstrom (sic) didn’t get to do that personally for some period of time did not mean that there were not Republicans there.
Yes, of course, the mail-in ballots were separated from their return envelopes. That had to be done by law to preserve the secrecy of the ballots. Mr. Senstrom (sic) seems to think they should have remained attached so that investigators could check later to see that Trump ballots were counted along with Biden Ballots. The ballots had to be run through the high-speed counting machines flattened and separated. It made no difference if the envelopes were put on the other side of the room. The envelopes were saved. The workers were not separating out Biden ballots and leaving Trump ballots in their envelopes. There was nothing nefarious going on and his “forensic” theory makes no sense.
Finally, I watched the last Election Board meeting Monday and Tuesday Nov. 23-24 at which it voted to certify the vote. Much of this misinformation was explained there. The board voted unanimously, including its Republican member, Jim Byrne, to certify the vote. He’s a lawyer as he did not challenge anything. He was satisfied that Delaware County did everything aboveboard to the best of their ability. It had several hundred volunteers, including me, to help. The election workers and volunteers were magnificent in the face of many challenges and our election in Delaware County was not compromised in any way.
If you were a journalist instead of a spewer of poisonous misinformation, you could verify all of this. I have given you the names. Call them at the county and start digging or take this bullshit down.
(Ms. Mayberry is a retired editor of the Delaware County Daily Times. You can reach her at email@example.com.)
This letter is a response to our story PA Poll Watchers Saw 60-70,000 Ballots in Locked Back Room.
Baltimore Post-Examiner is run by a creative cadre of dedicated journalists – some who worked at the Washington Post, Baltimore Examiner and other regional and national publications. It’s the Post-Examiner because we love the play on the word “Post” but we are also hoping to answer that question: What’s next after newspapers? We see a lot of websites come and go – and many simply are not making it for various reasons. We have been a model of success since we launched in 2012 with “a little bit of everything” and we aim to continue to break that cycle of websites coming and going.