Is There a ‘Stop the Steal’ Movement Brewing in Central Bucks School District?

Thirteen petitions have been filed in the Court of Common Pleas challenging the election results for three new Democratic school board members. It’s pathetic.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

For Bucks County Republicans, sour grapes make the best whine. Unfortunately, it comes at the expense of taxpayers and should be hard to swallow for reasonable people on both sides of the political aisle.

After voters in Central Bucks School District, in overwhelming fashion, elected a new Democratic majority in a clean sweep of local MAGA millionaire Paul Martino’s bankrolled Republican candidates, some residents just can’t accept the loss. What’s worse, they actually think they potentially could overturn the results. There are currently 13 seemingly identical petitions filed with the Court of Common Pleas claiming “fraud, or error” are the cause of Republican losses at the polls against Democrats Dana Foley, Heather Reynolds, and Karen Smith. 

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The basis for each of the filings is Title 25 P.S. Elections & Electoral Districts, § 3261, “Opening ballot boxes upon petition of electors alleging fraud or error; deposit or bond.” Sadly, the law doesn’t require proof of fraud or error. So if you have $50 you can try to gum up the election process. 

Let me be clear. This will go nowhere and is a really bad, if not sad joke. 

These challenges are not unlike 21 similar filings, citing the same statute, following the November 2022 election, when Republican Doug Mastriano got trounced at the polls by current Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro.

READ: Central Bucks Community Responds to Embattled Superintendent Abe Lucabaugh’s Planned Departure, Relieved to See Him Go

First Amendment attorney Garen Meguerian told Bucks County Beacon reporter Jenny Stephens at the time that the petitioners were, intentionally or not, misusing a statute reserved for mechanical/mathematical errors to challenge the honesty and validity of the election process itself. He predicted those petitions would be dismissed. They were. And the same will happen here. 

The Buck Stops Anywhere But Here

The new normal for Republicans following an election loss (or just anything they don’t like) is to frantically search for “alternative electors” and/or “alternative facts” to desperately create some alternative reality. 

It’s not just the petitioners who adopted this practice. This seemingly includes Martino, who appears to pass the buck to journalist Emily Rizzo, as well ACT 77 – a bill actually championed by Republicans in Harrisburg back in 2019 to allow mail-in voting. 

- Bucks County Beacon - Is There a ‘Stop the Steal’ Movement Brewing in Central Bucks School District?
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This election was actually a referendum on two things. First, it was a judgment of the Republican school board’s record of the last two years. 

This includes secretly bringing in the right-wing Christian Independence Law Center to rewrite policy to make it easier for parents to successfully challenge books – a campaign championed both locally and nationally by Moms for Liberty. Never mind ignoring district librarians who opposed the policy. 

This includes hiring a failed Republican Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate who called a middle school’s LGBTQ student club “leftist political indoctrination” as legal council to help conduct a sham investigation and show trial in a desperate attempt to discredit an ACLU complaint being investigated by Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights alleging the school district created a “toxic educational environment” for LGBTQ students.

It also includes rewriting and passing a new version of Policy 321, which mandated banning pride flags and effectively muzzles teachers in the classroom. 

And there’s so much more… .

READ: It Takes A Village: Expelling Right-Wing Extremism From Bucks County School Districts

Secondly, it was a referendum on the campaigns and how they were run. While the Democratic slate of Neighbors United was grassroots, positive, and policy focused, Martino’s Moms for Liberty-backed slate and their Republican supporters flooded the community with toxic mudslinging and disinformation. One example was the PAC in which Martino dropped $40,000 in seed money. Its founder Bob Salera told the Philadelphia Inquirer that his goal was to have all five Democratic candidates (who all won) to “be ashamed to be seen in public.” This was after he sent nasty mailers to people in the community. Then there were signs that said “Groom dogs not kids.” Or another that accused a Democratic candidate of being a communist. Voters were disgusted by these “scorched earth” campaigns, and the results are a testament to this. 

READ: Central Bucks School District’s Outgoing GOP Board Majority’s Bloated Severance Package for the Departing Superintendent May Actually Be Illegal

The 13 petitions are just one final testimonial to how far out of touch Republicans are in Central Bucks School District and Bucks County in general. I have a better chance of being the next president than these petitioners have of a judge ruling in their favor. The desperation and delusions behind them, if anything, will only help further tarnish the Republican brand in an increasingly “blue” county. 

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Cyril Mychalejko

Cyril Mychalejko

Cyril Mychalejko is the Editor-in-Chief of the Bucks County Beacon. Read his columns on Sundays and follow him on Twitter.

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