President Donald Trump’s efforts to discredit Pennsylvania’s election results ring hollow because of something that is too rare in Pennsylvania governance — transparency.
Prior to the election, Trump claimed against all evidence that the Pennsylvania election process — which this year included universal voting by mail for the first time — was rigged against him. It was the rhetorical precursor for the litigation he now is throwing at the wall in hopes that something, anything, sticks.
Forewarned, state Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar and county election officials established transparent systems for the ballot application process, returns, drop-box deposits and collections and, most importantly, the actual count.
Some counties, including Philadelphia and Allegheny, live-streamed the entire count for anyone to observe. And when the Trump campaign sued, claiming that it had been blocked from in-person access to the Philadelphia count, it acknowledged in court that it had observers on hand. The court allowed those observers to move from 10 feet away from the counting areas in the Pennsylvania Convention Center, to six feet away.
The situation demonstrates that transparency not only serves the public’s interest in open government, but the interests of the government itself in proving the integrity of its operations. Secrecy, rather than transparency, breeds mistrust. There is no substitute for letting residents observe government operations with their own eyes, which they naturally trust more than politicians’ words.
Ideally, government leaders will transfer the experience from the election to other aspects of governance, rather than guarding public information as if it is their own. That means they would simply release information when it is requested, rather than gratuitously invoking a 30-day waiting period that state law allows for difficult, rather than routine requests.
When the venerable CBS News magazine “60 Minutes” examined the Philadelphia vote-counting process after the election, it found a highly transparent process, and Republican and Democratic election officials equally proud of the work they had done to ensure a fair, accurate and transparent vote count in the birthplace of American democracy.
The transparent vote count is a proud moment for all of Pennsylvania, regardless of the Trump campaign’s effort to denigrate it.
— The Citizens’ Voice, Wilkes-Barre (TNS)