It appears that we have seen the final episode of “As the Insurrection Turns,” and all that remains is the final report. Although I missed most of the hearings, I did see one episode a couple of months ago. While flipping through the channels, my TV remote took me to MSNBC and… what are the chances? They were discussing the Jan. 6 committee and the “insurrection”! Adam Kinzinger, one of the two Republicans put on the select committee (to make it absolutely bipartisan and fair), was questioning Richard Donoghue, the acting U.S. deputy attorney general the last two months of the Trump administration. Donoghue said that in December 2020 he had been given a report on possible election irregularities, and he asked U.S. Attorney Scott Brady to investigate. Before I tell you what Brady learned, we need a little background because the story is a bit complicated (but well worth reading). 202,377 more ballots than voters? On Nov. 24, 2020, Pennsylvania Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar certified Pennsylvania’s election. On its face, the certification was of dubious legality because the secretary had not investigated a very large number of ballots cast in excess of the number of participating voters. At that point in time there, were 202,377 more ballots cast than the number of people who actually voted, according to SURE (the statewide listing of registered voters who actually voted). The difference was not disputed by Boockvar. Indeed, it was one of several reasons some Pennsylvania Republican legislators wanted Vice President Mike Pence to delay counting the electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021. They knew that there was a 202,377-ballot discrepancy, and they wanted time to investigate and resolve it. A reading of the Pennsylvania Code (25 PA. Stat. §3154) suggests that the Republicans probably had the law on their side. You decide:
“If … it shall appear that the total vote returned for any candidate or candidates … exceeds the total number of persons … who voted in said district … such excess shall be deemed a discrepancy and palpable error, and shall be investigated by the return board, and no votes shall be recorded from such district until such investigation shall be had [emphasis added].”The law refers to an excess of votes over voters, and the Republicans were describing something slightly different: an excess of ballots over voters. However, the difference between votes and ballots is fairly small — just overvotes, undervotes and (in some cases) write-in votes. The counterargument made by Wanda Murren, Boockvar’s spokeswoman, was nothing short of ridiculous. After insulting the GOP representatives for their “uninformed, lay analysis,” Murren conceded in a statement after the certification, “At this time there are still a few counties that have not completed uploading their vote histories to the SURE system. These counties, which included Philadelphia, Allegheny, Butler, and Cambria, would account for a significant number of voters.” When Murren said the tardy counties “would account for a significant number of voters,” she was being modest. Those counties have well over 2 million voters! How is it possible to certify an election when millions of vote histories have not yet been uploaded into the SURE system? And what about the investigation required by Pennsylvania law? Details, details! Let’s return to U.S. Attorney Scott Brady. What did he report to Richard Donoghue way back in December 2020? To find out, we need to fast-forward to the present day, to MSNBC, and to the “insurrection” hearing. The Pennsylvania voter deficit issue was being discussed by Donoghue and Kinzinger:
Kinzinger: Did [Brady] get back to you? What did they conclude? Donoghue: Scott Brady looked at it. He was the Western District Pennsylvania U.S. attorney. Took him a couple days, but he got back in relatively short order with a pretty clear explanation for why there was no foundation for concern. The secretary of state had not certified more votes than were actually cast. The difference between the 5.25 [million votes] that was actually certified by the secretary of state and the 5 million that was on a public-facing website was that the information on the website was incomplete because four counties had not uploaded their data [emphasis added].In other words, Donoghue gave the same incredibly stupid non-explanation that had been given two years earlier by Wanda Murren. Effectively (in my paraphrasing words), Brady said, “Don’t worry, it may appear that there are far more ballots than voters, but the real numbers are not yet known because there are four tardy counties that have not uploaded voter data,” (which, in the view of this author, appears to be a legal responsibility). It is sort of like a student telling his teacher to give him an A for his book report because she will like it very much.. once he finishes it. Kinzinger’s very next question should have been, “After the four tardy counties finally uploaded their information, WHAT WERE THE RESULTS?” But that is not what Kinzinger asked. Instead, he declared, “So, no credibility to that claim. There was zero to that, right?” And that was the conclusion of the discussion — at the hearings. However, there is more to this story. Sometime after the election but long before the Kinzinger-Donoghue dialogue, the slow-poke counties uploaded all of their voter information, and there was no longer a discrepancy of 202,377 votes. However, the voter deficiency (excess of ballots over voters) was still huge. A Pennsylvania organization called Verity Vote calculated the voter deficit to be over 121,000. I reviewed the organization’s basic methodology, and it appears to be logical and reasonable. To calculate the voter deficit, Verity converted the officially reported total votes into total ballots by adjusting for write-in votes and over/undervotes. Using information received via “right to know” requests, Verity determined that the SURE system’s record of voters had increased after the election due to the receipt of 71,893 late mail-in ballots. Those late ballots increased the number of voters who voted (according to SURE) but not the number of ballots counted (according to the secretary of state). Therefore, to calculate the actual voter deficit it was necessary to adjust for the 71,893 amount. There is one more complication. After Verity calculated the 121,000-voter deficit amount, the secretary of state revised her estimate of the number of voters (as of May 14, 2021). That revision lowered the voter deficit to about 91,000 — a result that remains larger than President Joe Biden’s winning margin, and large enough to call into question the legitimacy of the Pennsylvania certification. By the way, in March I filed a “right to know” request with the Pennsylvania Department of State, asking for documents that could be used to reconcile the number of 2020 election ballots to voters. The response I received was not fully responsive. However, if Pennsylvania does have an accurate reconciliation of 2020 voters to ballots cast (finally), it should provide it now (with numbers, dates, sources and methods) in a rebuttal to this article. If the reconciliation balances, I will profusely apologize for any snarky comments I have made, and for the many more I plan to make. I don’t think Donoghue and Kinzinger are stupid men. I believe they are smart enough to have known that they were omitting key information about the Pennsylvania election issue. They simply chose to conclude the discussion in a very dishonest and disingenuous manner. Let’s just call it their insurrection election lie. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.