The county staff member who has overseen and run Bucks County’s elections since 2020 has left his post.
Thomas Freitag, the director of the Bucks County Board of Elections, left his job last Friday. He was sent off with a going away party by his staff.
Freitag started at the Bucks County Board of Elections in 2014 and took on the top job in 2019.
The reason behind his departure is a move to another state to be closer to his girlfriend and her family. He will take a new job assisting elections officials throughout the country by joining the federal U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Freitag told NewHopeFreePress.com.
Freitag did admit his time working as the county’s chief election official did take a toll on him, but it wasn’t the driving force behind his decision to leave. He said he is still looking forward to continuing work in the field.
In Pennsylvania and across the nation, election officials have complained in recent years about being overworked and burned out from dealing the stresses of the job and falsehoods about the elections process.
Freitag’s time running the office that administers elections and all that comes with them has been marked by major events, including new election machines with paper ballots, major changes passed in 2019 to the state’s election laws, the COVID-19 pandemic, high-profile elections, lies about the outcome of the 2020 election, too-close-to-call races, and confusion caused by ever-changing court rulings.
The county’s performance on election days during Freitag’s time leading them has been largely positive, with positive words coming in recent years from Democrats and Republicans.
Despite the lack of major problems, Freitag and his staff have faced threats and harassment since 2020. One incident even led to the FBI being called into assist with an investigation.
Freitag said his experience already working in the office made for an easier transition when he took over in 2019.
“The little things matter in this office. There’s so many moving parts to organize an election,” he said. “Just making sure that they have enough pens at the polls, which might seem like a totally trivial thing, but something big can come from that little thing, not having enough pens.”
“You could be disenfranchising people and taking away their right to vote, so we want to make sure that we cross our t’s and dot our i’s,” he added.
Freitag acknowledged that the job included plenty of learning, too.
The Bucks County Board of Elections staff, which increases in size as the primary and general elections grow closer, were praised by Freitag.
“We have a great staff here,” he said. “They don’t have any partisanship or anything like that. We’re just trying to make sure everybody is able to vote.”
When asked if he had confidence in the elections in Bucks County, he emphatically said “yes.”
“We have so many checks and balances throughout the process and we go above and beyond,” he said.
Freitag noted the public, political parties, and staff are involved in making sure elections are well run in Bucks County.
Over his career, people and acquaintances have asked Freitag if his job is part-time due to the time period between elections, he said with a laugh.
“Ongoing throughout the entire year, we’re making sure we are constantly doing maintenance (on the voter rolls) and registration,” he said.
Freitag detailed the ways the county checks the voter rolls to make elections secure.
With the director’s job now open, Kelly Gale, the assistant director of the Bucks County Board of Elections, will fill the position in an acting capacity.