Wednesday, March 29, 2023

The LuLac Edition #4, 940, March 29th, 2023


Our "Write On Wednesday" logo.

This week we present the editorial from the Times Leader regarding that Congressional committee in D.C. that is bemoaning the paper shortage in the last primary election. Good thoughts and common sense.


If the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on House Administration wants to hold a hearing on the paper shortage debacle of last November’s Luzerne County election, more power to them. Getting to the bottom of this fiasco is an obvious must.

The problems with the hearing set up for March 28 in Washington, D.C., however, are many. And the fact that the committee pigheadedly insisted it will hold the hearing despite the legitimate concerns makes this look like political grandstanding.

Start with the timing. The committee is asking county officials to come to Washington just as primary election season is heating up. Indeed, there is irony that they want to pull election officials away to look into last November’s failures when those officials need to be focusing on assuring that the same problem — and any others — are avoided this May. If they care about election integrity, they would prove it by scheduling such a hearing for after the primary.

A much bigger issue has been widely pointed out: There is already an investigation ongoing, by the Luzerne County District Attorney’s office. It would be both common sense and common courtesy to wait until DA Sam Sanguedolce — a Republican — announces some results.

What, exactly, are the representatives going to ask that the DA’s office isn’t already looking into? How do they justify a hearing when the local investigation isn’t complete? And have they asked Sanguedolce if holding this hearing might interfere with the ongoing investigation?

Sanguedolce and his staff staff are here, in the thick of it. The DA said they have already interviewed more than 100 people. They have broad access to all possible players in the election failure. The Committee on House Administration, by comparison, does not include a single representative from Pennsylvania, let alone one of the two from districts that cover Luzerne County. One wonders how many of the committee members could point to the general location of Luzerne County on a map.

Lastly, there is the loaded title of the hearing: “Government Voter Suppression in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.” Strictly speaking, if we agree “suppression” is the act of keeping something from happening, then the paper shortage qualifies. It prevented people from voting when they arrived at the polls.

But there were earnest efforts to give those same people a chance to vote despite the problem. So far, there remains no indication that the paper shortage was a deliberate attempt to prevent people from voting. There is justifiable frustration over the lack of consequences for the person or people who should have assured adequate paper availability, but this could still be a simple case of miscommunication — people thinking someone else ordered paper, for example.

While “suppression” may be semantically accurate, we think County Election Board Chairwoman Denise Williams was fully justified in calling the hearing title “very disturbing,” especially with the word “government” preceding it. “To say it was government voter suppression when there hasn’t been a report issued on the investigation, I would say it’s not fair to put that narrative out there,” Williams said.

The word “suppression” is heavy with the implication of deliberate, even malevolent intent — we suspect that’s exactly why the Republican-led committee is using it. A more neutral title would have called the hearing what it should be: a look at the election disruption caused by a paper shortage in Luzerne County.

If the House Committee wants this hearing to have any value and credibility, they should postpone it until after the primary election, wait until the local investigation is complete, and change the name.

— Times Leader


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