Anti-Trump Official Illegally Designated Drop Boxes In PA County

Anti-Trump Official Illegally Designated Drop Boxes In PA County

Democrat Allegheny County Executive Sara Innamorato illegally designated five sites — including two skating rinks — for voters to drop their mail-in ballots at, in an expansion of the 2020 practice that was cut by her predecessor, a new challenge alleges.

Innamorato, who was elected in November, allegedly bypassed the county board of elections and failed to give the public the opportunity to hear the new plan that will create five ballot drop-off locations. The sites would be staffed, a county representative told the local news.

But a new lawsuit argues the move is in violation of Pennsylvania’s Election Code and the Sunshine Act.

“County Executive Innamorato cannot ignore her legal obligations to consult with other members of the county board of elections and the public no matter how eager she may be to impose her will on the citizens of Allegheny County,” President of Restoring Integrity and Trust in Elections (RITE) Derek Lyons said. RITE is backing the suit, which was filed by Innamorato’s fellow county board of elections member Sam DeMarco and four voters.

“The County Executive may not care what her fellow citizens have to say about ballot drop boxes, but she is required by law to at least hear them out,” Lyons added.

“What she’s trying to do would be legal — if the board voted on it,” DeMarco told The Federalist, adding the move would likely pass since he’s the minority Republican member and his colleague, Democrat Councilwoman Bethany Hallam, believes in drop boxes and would likely vote in favor.

“We didn’t have these offices in 2021, we didn’t have them in 2022, we didn’t have them in 2023 and now all of a sudden in an election year, in a heavily Democratic county, she takes this action unilaterally. I want to force her to have to do things by the law.”

“If she’s going to [bypass the board during the primary election], what is she going to do for the general?” DeMarco questioned.

Hallam also agreed that Innamorato should have followed state guidance before unilaterally making the decision to implement the drop-off locations, according to WTAE.

“It’s very clear from the Department of State guidance that this is a decision to be made by the Board of Elections, yet we haven’t even met this year,” Hallam reportedly told the outlet. “We absolutely need to be making that decision as a Board — not with one member of the board unilaterally making board decisions.”

Under guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of State, “county boards of elections should establish a plan and adopt procedures for how voters in their county may return their completed absentee and mail-in ballots.”

Innamorato did not return The Federalist’s request for comment by the time of publication. According to WTAE, however, Innamorato said her decision was an “administrative function,” with her office later arguing she was simply expanding the practice that was in place in 2020, according to WTAE.

But Innamorato’s predecessor, Rich Fitzgerald, cut back the amount of drop-off locations to just the county office building in 2021.

“In my mind, we do have drop boxes,” Fitzgerald said, according to TRIB Live. “They’re called mailboxes.”

Fitzgerald said the satellite locations were expensive and the need for them had dwindled due to vaccines and more information about Covid-19.

“The problem with the drop boxes are numerous,” Fitzgerald reportedly said. “No. 1, they’ve got to be monitored 24/7. You can’t just have a box and leave it unattended because then there could be potential for fraud and other litigation that comes about.”

Innamorato, who was formerly a member of the Democratic Socialists of America and a supporter of Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders‘ presidential bid, ran successfully for state representative as a Democratic Socialist in 2018. During that campaign, Innamorato disparaged her white would-be constituents as “poor” and “racist,” according to KDKA.

“I just look at my district, right? And it’s 93 percent white. My district, which I know is like white working class, poor folk, who are racist, because it’s so much easier for them to look to their side and say, ‘I’m going to blame that person,’” Innamorato said during a podcast.

Two years later, in 2020, she pledged to get then-President Donald Trump out of office.

“I will fight to get Trump out of office,” she tweeted during the 2020 Democratic National Convention.

She also tweeted that, as part of the DNC’s “platform committee,” she had proposed election-related measures for the 2020 party platform. The DNC’s platform that year included a promise to “help make vote-from-home and vote-by-mail universally available during the pandemic,” and to give election offices “sufficient time after election day to process, count, and audit all ballots.”

Brianna Lyman is an elections correspondent at The Federalist.

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