MASTRIANO OP-ED: State Department Secretary Must Resign

“A republic if you can keep it” – famous words uttered by Benjamin Franklin upon being asked what type of government the Continental Congress created.

That if hangs ominously in the air today as patriots across Pennsylvania share concern over keeping it – our republic – post the 2020 Presidential election. Much of this concern can be laid at the feet of inept Commonwealth Secretary Kathy Boockvar, who failed to secure our election or retain the confidence of Pennsylvanians after multiple pleas from myself.

I spent 30 years in the Army defending American freedoms, including the right to elect our representatives. Part of my service included leading 80 people from 18 nations as I directed NATO’s Joint Intelligence Center in Afghanistan with the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). During this period, ISAF provided oversight and security to Afghan elections, a country where honest elections was hitherto unknown.  Yet, with the assistance of the international community, the elections that we oversaw were safe and fair.  I wish I could say the same of elections in Pennsylvania during the oversight of Secretary Boockvar.

It is with deep regret that I demand the Secretary’s immediate resignation. It is regretful that Pennsylvanians no longer feel secure in casting their vote. The nucleus of any free society is confidence that each citizen’s vote will count.

Nothing is more crucial to Americans than confidence that our voices will be heard through voting. 

Although I was a negative vote in Secretary Boockvar’s confirmation, due to her inability to articulate what she would do to safeguard our elections, I gave her the opportunity to prove that my concerns were misplaced. Unfortunately, Secretary Boockvar failed to deploy even the minimum safeguards to secure our election; her failed oversight of this vital election affirmed my “NO” vote during her confirmation hearing and affirmed that she is unfit for this task.

On four separate occasions over the past year, I questioned Secretary Boockvar on the security of elections in Pennsylvania. I shared my concerns that elections in Afghanistan, in my experience, are more secure than elections in Pennsylvania. As the Commonwealth Secretary, charged with conducting our elections, I asked her what specific measures should be implemented to secure our elections and retain the confidence of our residents. The Secretary’s answers were woefully inadequate and revealed she had neither a plan, nor any idea to alleviate my concerns about her fitness for office.

Hours before perhaps the most pivotal election in our history, Secretary Boockvar sent out new guidance to counties that created confusion and disorder. According to a recent Patriot News article, Secretary Boockvar told the Supreme Court that mail-in ballots received after the November 3 election would be set aside, pending an appeal to nullify ballots received in the days after the election.

Subsequently, the Secretary told counties to tabulate the ballots as quickly as possible, co-mingling ballots received by election day with those received after. There was no clarity, whatoever.

In fact, some Pennsylvania counties counted mail-in or absentee ballots while other counties followed other procedures. Some counties contacted voters who made errors on their mail-in or absentee ballot while other counties did not give voters the opportunity to correct a mistake, and placed their vote and voice in jeopardy.

As a leader in the armed forces, if I lost the confidence of my troops, my peers, or my chain-of-command, I would have been relieved of my duties. Secretary Kathy Boockvar has lost the confidence of Pennsylvanians in exercising their right to vote, my confidence, and the confidence of many of my peers. I hereby request Secretary Boockvar’s immediate resignation for the greater good of our Commonwealth.

Senator Mastriano represents the 33rd District in the Pennsylvania Senate. The District includes Adams County and parts of Franklin, Cumberland and York counties.