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November 13, 2020

Philadelphia Bar Association Joins Pennsylvania Nonprofits in Call for Upholding the Integrity of the Election

We stand with nonprofit organizations from across the state of Pennsylvania in urging, “Every vote should be counted, and every vote should count.”

In an effort spearheaded by ADL-Philadelphia and the Committee of Seventy, we make the following statement:

A bedrock principle of our democracy is that voting is a fundamental right and, some would say, sacred act. When we enter the voting booth or sit at home and fill out an absentee or mail-in ballot, there is an unspoken adherence to the compact we’ve made – we the people choose our government and that’s why we are willing to abide by the laws enacted by that government.

The undersigned organizations believe that the more eligible voters who vote, the stronger our democracy becomes. We believe that the easier we make it for citizens to participate in our democratic processes, the more confidence the people have in those processes. It is critical that there is public confidence in those processes; without it, trust erodes, participation will decline, and our democracy will be weakened.

Last year, before any of us had even heard of COVID-19, Pennsylvania enacted new electoral processes to make it easier for Pennsylvanians to vote. This change was consistent with ongoing work in Pennsylvania to evolve our electoral process to meet the 21st century, to get new, more secure voting machines, and to ensure that every eligible voter could vote. This work was bipartisan and broadly supported across the Commonwealth.

In 2020, more Pennsylvanians voted than ever before. Diligent, committed local election officials and volunteers worked around the clock to count those votes and to make the vote counting process secure and transparent. Pennsylvania ran a fair election, and the people who waited in line, or came to a dropbox, or mailed their ballots in reliance on the duly enacted laws, guidance by state and local election officials, and on rulings of the state and federal courts, deserve to have their votes counted and accorded full weight.

We should all be celebrating the record voter turnout. Instead, there are elected officials at all levels making baseless charges of voter fraud and seeking to disenfranchise Pennsylvania voters. Not only is this unprecedented, it is dangerous. Such charges weaken public confidence in our electoral system, undermine the fundamental principles on which our democracy rests, and now seem to be inciting violence. We, of course, understand that narrow margins trigger automatic recounts and that campaigns have the right to request recounts and to litigate legitimate questions surrounding electoral processes.

However, it is unacceptable for those in positions of great power and influence to undermine our democratic institutions and processes with unfounded claims of fraud and unfairness simply because they are unhappy with the outcome. Cynically undermining an election’s integrity in this way is wholly at odds with the principles undergirding our democracy. These principles have always been and must remain above politics, and it is incumbent on the public to reassert and protect them.

When asked what form of government we were creating, Benjamin Franklin famously said, “A Republic, if you can keep it.” We have joined together today to protect our Republic, to protect our democracy and to stand for the principle that when more of us vote, our democracy is stronger. Every vote should be counted, and every vote should count.

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