Wolf taps a new election secretary for last year in office

Governor Tom Wolf

File photo: Governor Tom Wolf speaking at People’s Park in Philadelphia on December 9, 2021. (Office of Gov.)

Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday said that he will have a new top election official as he enters his last year in office, naming Leigh Chapman to replace Veronica Degraffenreid atop the Department of State.

Chapman will be the department’s fifth secretary or acting secretary during Wolf’s seven years at the busy agency. She will take over Jan. 8.

The Department of State has been at the center of efforts to protect elections from outside hackers, moving counties to paper-based machines, administering the introduction of a broad new mail-in voting law and defending the administration against baseless allegations of election fraud by former President Donald Trump and his allies.

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The department took heat in 2021 for a major bureaucratic bungle, failing to advertise a proposed state constitutional amendment, as required, to allow victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue perpetrators and collaborators over decades-old claims. As a result, a statewide referendum must wait two more years, at least, until 2023.

Chapman previously served almost two years in the department under Wolf as a policy director, from 2015 to 2017. Most recently she has been the executive director of the Washington-based Deliver My Vote, a voting advocacy group.

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Chapman also helped run the voting rights program of the Washington-based Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

After almost a year in the job, Degraffenreid will become a special adviser to Wolf.

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