BLUE BELL, PA—Today, President Joe Biden will be visiting Montgomery County to speak about the importance of preserving our country’s democracy. The choice of location is fitting both historically, and because Montgomery County knows firsthand the recent challenges to free and fair elections. As the third largest county in Pennsylvania, Montgomery County will be one of the most highly watched counties in the nation during the 2024 elections.
“The threat to our voting rights is real,” said Neil Makhija, Commissioner and Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Elections. “In the last presidential election, fraudulent suits filed in Pennsylvania courts threatened to deprive our residents of the right to vote. The issue of ‘undated’ mail-in ballots remains contested in Pennsylvania’s courts, and the final rulings can be decisive to the outcome of our elections.”
“As we step up to protect democracy, we will fight to protect every vote in 2024,” said Jamila H. Winder, Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners. “In Montgomery County, every eligible voter will have an equal opportunity to have their ballot cast and counted. We will be investing in our Voter Services operations to ensure that all facets of our elections run smoothly and effectively. We'll also be focused on increasing outreach for those communities that have been historically marginalized in the voting process so that they have an equal opportunity for their voices to be heard.”
“It’s not all doom and gloom, although the President rightfully recognizes the grave danger to our democratic institutions. There are bright spots, such as here in Montgomery County, where we saw historic turnout in recent elections and where our office is at the vanguard of protecting voting rights,” said Makhija, who, before serving as Commissioner, was an election law professor at the University of Pennsylvania and voting rights advocate. “We will be leading in the Commonwealth with our Office of Voter Services’ commitment to allowing voters to cure technical errors on mail-in ballots. We’ll take every proactive step to see historic turnout, with a goal of at least 90% in 2024. Voter participation is a vital sign for the health of our democracy.”
These steps will include new initiatives, such as registering voters whenever they visit County departments, working with nonpartisan partners to connect with communities that have had traditionally low voter turnout, increasing language access to voting materials, and using text messaging and other means to inform voters of key election information.
“In Montgomery County, we know how critical every vote can be,” said Makhija. “In 2023, we saw elections decided by one vote. Our national elections could hinge on the narrowest margins, which is why the work of local election officials has become high-pressure and critical to upholding our democratic process.”
Commissioners Makhija and Winder serve as a historic majority in Montgomery County. Makhija serves as the first Asian American or AAPI Commissioner in Pennsylvania history. Winder serves as the first Black woman to hold this office. In 2023, Montgomery County saw a historic increase in turnout and engagement with communities of color.
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