The Delaware County Republican Party today, Oct. 27, filed complaints with the Delaware County Board of Elections and Delaware County Voter Registration Commission against Democrat Vince Rongione, a candidate for State Representative in the 163rd Legislative District. The complaints ask the agencies to investigate Rongione for violations of Pennsylvania’s Voter Registration and state election laws.
Under the Pennsylvania Constitution, an individual must be a resident of the district in which they are running for a minimum of one year prior to the election. In October 2013, the last date to file a voter registration prior to the 2013 general election, Rongione filed a change of voter registration with an address of 1251 Wilson Drive, located in Upper Darby’s 3-7 voting district. However, newly obtained witness statements show that the property was for sale, unoccupied, and vacant – despite Rongione’s assertion that he was residing there according to his voter registration form, county GOP Chairman Andy Reilly said.
The real estate agent who listed the property has provided a statement that he visited the property weekly from July 2013 through January 2014 and that the residence was vacant and unoccupied the entire time, Reilly says. Similar statements from a neighbor of the residence, the new owner of the property (who settled on the house in January 2014) and their real estate agent also confirm that the property was unoccupied and vacant.
“Based on the statements we have obtained, it appears that Vince Rongione lied about residing at this address in order to establish a basis for proof of residency so he could run for the seat,” said Reilly. “This appears to be part of an elaborate deception orchestrated by Rongione in an attempt to circumvent the state constitution’s residency requirements. If, for some reason, voters were to elect Rongione in spite of his repeated deceptions throughout the campaign, he could not be seated as a legislator if he fails to meet the residency requirements.”
Specifically, the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requires that a State Representative “shall have been citizens and inhabitants of their respective districts one year next before their election.”
On Dec. 7, 2013, Rongione subsequently registered to vote at his newly purchased house on Blanchard Road in Upper Darby. This was more than one month after the Constitutional deadline for establishing his residency.
Rongione’s Republican opponent, Jamie Santora, has been raising questions about Rongione’s residency claims throughout the campaign. However, officials just became aware that the house he used in an attempt to establish residency was for sale and vacant.
“I have asked the voter services agencies to investigate this apparent fraudulent voter registration and unlawful voting that occurred in 2013,” said Reilly. “This is a serious matter, no mere campaign rhetoric, and there are serious consequences if prosecutorial agencies confirm the facts we have discovered. Unless he can immediately produce evidence that he actually lived at 1251 Wilson Drive and intended to make this his permanent domicile, Rongione should admit his wrongful actions to the residents of this district, end his campaign, and seek immediate court permission to withdraw as a candidate.”