Delco Election Concerns Aired In 9-Hour Hearing Before Judge Dozor — Update: Judge Dozor has ruled that certification can proceed. Delaware County Common Pleas Court Judge Barry Dozor presided over a remarkable nine-hour hearing, yesterday, Nov. 20, concerning the request by Leah Hoopes, Gregory Stenstrom and Nicole Missino that certification of the Pennsylvania county’s certification of votes from the Nov. 8 election be postponed until Nov. 28 so a hearing could be held at which evidence could be presented regarding election irregularities.
Well, the hearing was basically held but limited to specific allegations made in the plaintiffs filing, namely that 2,778 records of requests for mail-in ballots were deleted by the county; at least 194 voter registration records of individuals who voted were deleted; a partisan third-party was allowed to control and tabulate mail-in ballots; and the chain of custody was adulterated by detouring the election-night journey of the county’s physical ballots and v-drives for six hours into a closed building, where poll watchers were prohibited from entering, before continuing the delivery to the centralized counting center at the Wharf Building in Chester.
These claims were generally, and reasonably, explained by the County during the course of the day but other troubling points were brought up.
Judge Dozor, who deserves great praise, is expected to rule today.
Mrs. Hoopes and Stenstrom were certified poll watchers while Mrs. Missino was the Republican candidate for the 165th District in the State House.
They represented themselves. Attorneys are notably reluctant to take vote fraud cases in Delco for fear of repercussions. Deborah Silver, a previous attorney for Mrs. Hoopes and Stenstrom, faced an attempt to disbar her which reportedly cost her $20,000 to beat.
The plaintiffs lack of experience led them to make mistakes. They were unable to call expert witnesses including data expert Robert Martini, who was unable to present a report which we are including at the end of this article. Martini, as a fact witness, testified, however, that the machine tape in the 1st Precinct of Marple’s 7th Ward was missing a hashcode.
This is a legitimate concern. If it happened there it likely happened elsewhere and reveals a security issue.
Mrs. Missino was unable to get into the record the voters who told her that their votes were never tallied.
Joan Weber, an entrepreneur who had been director of finance for Conde Nast, was unable to testify regarding the strange shrinkage in the tally for mail-in ballot requests she recorded from the state’s OpenDataPa website.
Julie Yu, whose report of election day ballots being taken unexpectedly from the Springfield Library dropbox to the county-owned “Flagship Building” at 2 W Baltimore Pike, in Media, might have made the most significant claim. The ballots had been expected to go to the counting center at the Wharf in Chester. The change caused suspicion regarding the the chain of custody.
James Allen, the county director of election operations, testified the change was due to Act 88 that was passed by the state legislature in July.
To get funding provided by the act, the county had to agree to, among other things, that it post on its publicly accessible Internet website an unofficial number of absentee ballots and mail-in ballots received for the election by 12:01 a.m.
This required election night procedures for the collection of dropbox ballots to be changed for logistical reasons, Allen said.
In previous elections — and in the weeks before election night — dropbox ballots were and are collected by county employees using vans and taken directly to the counting center. The new constraints led to the election night dropboxes being collected by two-person teams using private cars, with at least one member of the team being a county employee, according to Allen. Rather than being taken directly to Chester these ballots were first gathered at the Flagship Building.
Mrs. Hoopes, in her cross-examination, got Allen to admit that the change was never made public and that the county guidelines actually called for the ballots to go to Rose Tree Park on election night.
Things like this are what causes suspicions to arise.
Laureen Hagan, chief clerk of the Bureau of Elections, testified that the county never deletes requests for mail-in ballots. It remained unanswered as to why 2,778 such requests appear to have been deleted.
Stenstrom testified that he saw a cart of between 20,000 and 30,000 pre-canvassed ballots without pedigree at the Wharf on Election Night and that at 8:05 p.m., about 25,000 votes almost immediately appeared with lopsided margin for Democrats.
The logic and accuracy testing for the scanning machines was a big issue throughout the day with attorneys Nick Centrella, representing the Election Board, and William Martin, representing the County, desperately trying to keep it out.
Mrs. Hoopes got it on record that Delco was not following state protocols in its testing. She also got it on record that the county followed directives from their information technology guy rather than what was prescribed by the Secretary of the Commonwealth.
Gavin Lawn, an observer at the counting center, testified he was inspired to become involved after receiving 13 mail-in ballots at his home in 2020. He said during his scheduled shift on Nov. 9, the door to the counting room was locked despite their being people inside.
Stenstrom said that he’d like the Judge to let him compare the ballot images from the scanner with the Department of State database to ease any concerns about the election being rigged. He said this could be done quickly and easily using off-the-shelf software without affecting the integrity of the machine.
There is no reason not to let citizens be allowed this access.
County solicitor Martin implied the plaintiffs and their supporters were merely sore losers motivated entirely by a dislike for mail-in ballots rather than legitimate concerns about the election.
About 40 people packed Courtroom 7 with another reported 80 in an overflow courtroom. About 20 stayed the whole nine hours.
Again kudos to Judge Dozor for the effort to address concerns.
And kudos to Stenstrom, Mrs. Hoopes, and Mrs. Missino and their supporters who — unlike Martin — were not paid for the nine hours.
And there remains, Mr. Martin, no reason — or state mandate — for the county to have unsupervised dropboxes accessible 24/7. Poorly monitored screens of images from solar-powered cameras do not cut it for supervision and the only reasons not restrict the boxes to government buildings during business hours are reasons that raise suspicions.
Here is the report Robert Martini prepared regarding voting issues in Delaware County: