Pennsylvania DA files charges against elections judge who allegedly altered primary ballots
The District Attorney from Lehigh County in Pennsylvania filed misdemeanor charges this week against Judge of Elections Erika Bickford in the state’s 3rd district for allegedly prying into ballots and altering entries.
District Attorney Jim Martin said the incident involving Bickford occurred during the June 2020 Democratic primary race for state representative between Enid Santiago and Peter Schweyer in the state’s 22nd district.
Santiago allegedly claimed there were “irregularities” that mounted to vote code violations at a voting location in the county’s 3rd Ward.
Bickford allegedly said she was “darkening” circles when found with a pen and voted and unvoted ballots in hand, after which she said she assisted about thirty voters by darkening the choices, according to Martin, though she claimed she did not alter votes.
Martin wrote that he could not determine or prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Bickford had altered or changed a vote to favor one of the candidates.
Bickford voluntarily surrendered to law enforcement and has been arraigned of her own recognizance.
Election security has become a key issue in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election, and there have already been some related issues in Pennsylvania.
For example, the Trump administration has filed a lawsuit against Philadelphia after it claimed poll watchers were unlawfully banned from early voting offices. Election officials have said, however, that poll watchers do not legally need to be admitted to early voting centers.
And the early voting process in Philadelphia was fraught with technical difficulties since satellite election offices opened last week. Some voters waited in line for hours as delays were said to be caused by problems with the voter database, which prevented the processing and approval of mail-in ballot applications, and the printing of other materials.
The Department of Justice also initiated an investigation into an incident in Pennsylvania where several mail-in ballots were found in the trash. An inquiry found that a contractor incorrectly discarded them.