Showdown in Gettysburg 2020

“This is not the United States of America, what happened.”

President Trump, in what might be considered an uncharacteristic understatement, made that remark via cell phone to a Pennsylvania State Senate committee hearing the day before Thanksgiving. The president was referring to emerging evidence that election workers in the Keystone State successfully manipulated hundreds of thousands of ballots to ensure Joe Biden won the state’s 20 electoral votes.

Each day, the public is realizing that the most cherished vestige of America’s disintegrating democracy—the quadrennial national election to choose the next president—has been hijacked by Banana Republic-type thugs. Rules are ignored or simply made up as we go to install the chosen leader. Low-level guerilla operatives dependent on the publicly funded largess of the ruling junta openly and shamelessly flout the law; judges who are in on the fix give their legal imprimatur while state-run media silences any criticism.

This is the sort of stuff American election watchers once condemned as undemocratic. Jimmy Carter, who dedicated his post-presidency to monitoring elections around the world, issued a congratulatory statement to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris just four days after Election Day, presumably uninterested in widespread reports of ballot dumps and wildly changing vote counts in swing states. Last week, the Carter Center noted several “inconsistencies” in Georgia’s election audit, including concerns about the chain of custody and unsupervised ballots, but nonetheless deemed the process “successful.”

What a farce.

As I wrote last week, political leaders on both sides of the aisle should demand a do-over in Pennsylvania regardless of whether it changes the outcome of the presidential election. In response to a lawsuit filed by several Pennsylvania Republican officials arguing that Act 77, the 2019 law that loosened mail-in voting rules, is unconstitutional, a judge has halted any further certification of the election’s results. (That ruling has been appealed by the Democratic governor and secretary of state and is headed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which holds a 5-2 Democratic majority.)

But the bombshell hearing convened by Republican lawmakers on November 25, held in Gettysburg no less, is guaranteed to put more pressure on state officials while bolstering the president’s legitimate claims of an illegitimate election. 

“Everything is at stake in this election cycle, the republic is at stake,” State Senator Doug Mastriano said during a forceful opening statement Wednesday afternoon. “We’ve got a lot of problems . . . it opened the door to a lot of the shenanigans and abuses and folly that we’re dealing with in this state.” (Mastriano is a retired U.S. Army colonel with a doctorate in history and four masters degrees.) The first-term state legislator said the committee had heard from “tens of thousands” of Pennsylvanians demanding action.

Several witnesses told the senate majority policy committee about widespread malfeasance including unsecure counting facilities, secret pre-canvassing of votes, massive and sudden vote dumps for Joe Biden, ballots scanned more than once, and “armloads of ballots” arriving out of nowhere without a chain-of-custody paper trail. Poll watchers were harassed, called racists, and kept far away from the vote-counting process; one longtime processing facility in Delaware County was moved from a courthouse to a parking lot near a loading dock with open access. 

“There was no cooperation, complete resistance from election night and every day after,” Leah Hoops, a Republican poll watcher, told the committee.

After an injunction forced county election officials to permit observers into the facility, they were only allowed in for five minutes every two hours and kept “20 feet away from any physical ballot,” Hoops testified. “We have been intimidated, threatened, bullied, spent countless hours away from our families, friends and jobs. We have signed affidavits under penalty of perjury.”

Another poll watcher, a data scientist working with Hoops, testified that voters who were supposed to receive provisional ballots instead received regular ballots and that approximately 70,000 mail-in ballots were abandoned and untabulated. 

Retired Army Colonel Phil Waldron, an electronic warfare specialist, told legislators that “voting systems in the U.S. and in Pennsylvania were built to be manipulated.” Waldron has been working with forensic teams to assess “stolen elections” in Argentina, Italy, Venezuela, Singapore, Bolivia and other countries. “There are lots of ways to interdict these systems,” Waldron said.

During one of the hearing’s most jaw-dropping moments, Waldron told Rudy Guiliani, who was in attendance on behalf of the president, that dramatic spikes in vote tallying supported clear evidence of fraud. In one spike, roughly 570,000 votes were awarded to Biden according to Waldron. 

“And how much for Trump?” Guiliani asked. “A little over 3,200,” Waldron responded. The crowd gasped.

Guiliani also confirmed with Waldron that nearly 700,000 mail-in ballots in Allegheny and Philadelphia Counties were processed without observers present in violation of the state’s election law. Further, Waldron and Guiliani told the committee that Pennsylvania sent out 1.8 million mail-in ballots but the Democratic secretary of state counted more than 2.5 million mail-in votes; nearly 2 million of those ballots were cast for Joe Biden.

Voters also testified to irregularities. One GOP county chairwoman said she fielded “scores of calls” from voters in her county confused by the new mail-in ballot rules, which included the use of drop boxes for the first time. Republican voters complained to Gloria Lee Snover that their mail-in ballots or in-person votes were not accounted for; Snover also confirmed that envelopes were inspected and efforts to “cure” disqualified ballots occured weeks before Election Day, which also violates Pennsylvania election law. “To this day, we have no idea what or whose ballots were counted,” Snover said.

At the conclusion of the nearly four-hour hearing, Mastriano wondered aloud how Afghanistan, where he was once deployed, could hold a more secure election than the United States of America. “I don’t even know how this happened in America. What’s going on here? It’s gotta be by design.” 

In an interview Friday, Mastriano said he and his colleagues are considering a joint resolution—both chambers are controlled by Republicans—to name the state’s electoral slate rather than keep that authority vested in Kathy Boockvar, the appointed Democratic secretary of state. (Biden’s 20 electors are scheduled to meet in Harrisburg on December 14 at the same time electors meet in state capitals across the country.)

Despite all the bombshells dropped in Gettysburg this week, Democrats and the news media still cling to the outlandish claim that there’s “no evidence” of vote fraud. Twitter continues to flag the president’s tweets for containing “disputed” information even when there’s nothing to dispute.

But no one can censor or dispute the credible allegations made in Gettysburg on Wednesday. Pennsylvania Republicans showed a level of courage and patriotism woefully lacking in the establishment GOP, which is ready to dispatch Donald Trump and move on with a Biden presidency. If we are indeed creeping toward a second civil war to reclaim the country, the shots fired at Gettysburg this week might, as they did in the first, represent a decisive turning point.

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