Pennsylvania’s top election official, Kathy Boockvar will resign after her agency made a mistake concerning a constitutional amendment that would extend retroactively the timeline for victims to file civil actions against their abusers.
Governor Tom Wolf’s office announced Monday that Boockvar, secretary of the commonwealth, will resign from the position on Friday after serving in the department for three years.
According to a WPXI report the proposed amendment, which is in response to the child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, first passed the Legislature as House Bill 963 in November 2019. The Department of State was constitutionally required to advertise the wording of the proposed constitutional amendment in two newspapers in every county, in each of the three months before the next general election when members of the General Assembly are elected.
But the advertising did not take place before the 2020 general election. “I’m extremely proud of what we’ve accomplished for the people of Pennsylvania,” Boockvar said. “I’ve always believed that accountability and leadership must be a cornerstone of public service. While I only became aware of the mistake last week and immediately took steps to alert the administration to the error, I accept responsibility on behalf of the department.”
The main consequence of this mistake is that Pennsylvanian residents will not be able to vote on such a change until spring 2023 at the earliest. This is a blow to survivors who have fought for this cause for nearly twenty years.
“This change at the Department of State has nothing to do with the administration of the 2020 election, which was fair and accurate,” Wolf said. “The delay caused by this human error will be heartbreaking for thousands of survivors of childhood sexual assault, advocates and legislators, and I join the Department of State in apologizing to you. I share your anger and frustration that this happened, and I stand with you in your fight for justice.”
Improve the process
The governor has asked the Pennsylvania Office of State Inspector General to review the situation and make additional recommendations to improve the department’s process for handling constitutional amendments.
The governor thanked Boockvar for taking responsibility for the department’s error and praised her leadership over the past three years to provide a fair election last year under tremendously challenging circumstances.
“Thanks in part to Kathy’s leadership, Pennsylvania voters either cast ballots using modern voting machines or securely voted by mail for the first time,” Wolf said. “It is through her commitment to helping the counties administer a fair election that we can all have confidence in the accuracy and integrity of the recent election results.”