A lawsuit alleging multiple violations of federal and state election laws, as well as Pennsylvania’s “Right to Know” statute, was filed in Delaware County Court of Pennsylvania Wednesday night, according to sources familiar with the litigation.
The suit (case number: 187701637235922978) was brought by plaintiffs Gregory Stenstrom, Leah Hoopes and Ruth Morin. Stenstrom, a 2020 Republican poll watcher, has been outspoken in recent months regarding alleged irregularities in ballot canvassing in Delaware County. Defendants include election officials Marilyn Heider and James Ziegelhoffer as well as Delaware County, the Delaware County Board of Elections and the Delaware County Bureau of Elections.
In early 2021, a whistleblower working for the Delaware County Bureau of Elections began inquiring why it was apparent to her that multiple documents pertaining to the Nov. 3, 2020 elections were being destroyed in the southeastern Pennsylvania county, the sources said. The name of the whistleblower has not yet been made public.
In May, a third-party attorney filed a request via Pennsylvania’s public-transparency law, asking for election data and records for last November’s elections. In particular, the request asked for return sheets, the official documents on which election results are recorded, as well as voting-machine tapes showing the in-person vote totals for each precinct.
According to the videos and the sources regarding the lawsuit, many such records were actually destroyed because Delaware County officials violated numerous election laws and needed to hide evidence of their violations. The alleged destruction of records was, the sources say, done to ensure that the records eventually provided actually matched the election results that were reported in Nov. 2020.
Pennsylvania law requires that voting records be preserved for 11 months after an election and federal law demands that such records be preserved for 22 months after an election. Pennsylvania law also requires that voting records be preserved for 11 months after an election and federal law demands that such records be preserved for 22 months after an election. Records in Delaware County were also required to be preserved per a prior lawsuit in which Stenstrom alleged election irregularities.
One video provided by the more recent lawsuit’s sources shows Tom Gallagher, a lawyer and election official in Delaware County, destroying elongated pieces of paper – allegedly the voting-machine tapes election officials are required to preserve. In that recording, the whistleblower asks Gallagher off-camera why he is tearing up the documents. Gallagher replies, “At this point, I don’t want anybody to pick it up and think that we threw stuff away.”
Another election official, James Ziegelhoffer (identified in the video as “Ziggy”), then says, “We’re gonna have a little campfire going.”
“What I don’t understand – and this makes, honestly, this makes me nervous – is why tapes were being thrown away,” the whistleblower is shown asking Ziegelhoffer in a second video.
Ziegelhoffer began to protest that “no tapes were…,” and the whistleblower interjected that Ziegelhoffer and other election officials were throwing away tapes and she again asked why they did so.
Ziegelhoffer replied, “They’re all unidentifiable.” After the whistleblower pointed out that all election records have to be preserved for 22 months, Ziegelhoffer said, “Well, let’s put it this way: Yes, there are tapes that are being tossed, but they are of no audit value.”
One source involved in the litigation said that by “no audit value,” he means the numbers contained on the tapes will not match election results publicized last autumn.
That video goes on to display still shots of voting-machine tapes in a garbage bin; a box labeled “misc[ellaneous] scanner tapes not attached to return sheets, Nov. 3, 2020;” a return sheet with a handwritten note reading “11/14/2020, more than 300 blank ballots received” and ballot-return envelopes torn up and inside a garbage bin. A final still shot shows a handwritten note stating, “There is a discrepancy in total ballots received because ballot box and return sheet indicate 300 received but 330 blank ballots returned—11/14/2020.”
A third recording captures a conversation between county Voting Machine Warehouse Supervisor and Jim Savage and Director of Election Operations James Allen about disposing of “pads and second scanners.” After Allen mentions those materials, Savage replies, “We can’t talk about it anymore.” When Allen asks him why, Savage says, “It’s a felony.”
A fourth video shows Gallager speaking to the whistleblower off-camera saying that another county official handed him a box of election records and told him it was missing vDrives from at least the communities of Chester, Haverford and Folcroft. (VDrives electronically contain information tabulated by the voting machines.) The whistleblower inquired of Gallagher why those vDrives are missing and Gallagher responds, “I have no idea.”
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Bradley Vasoli is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].